UK is champion of SMEs within Europe


The UK leads the way when it comes to championing small business.

A report published in Brussels by Erkki Liikanen, commissioner for Enterprise and Information Society, shows the UK's lead in making the views of small firms heard in Europe.

The report recommends that every country and the European Commission itself 'Thinks Small First', the UK's slogan for putting our 3.7 million small businesses at the heart of policy-making.

Nigel Griffiths, small firms minister, said: 'The UK is the first member state to take direct action to ensure small firms' voices are heard nationally and in Europe by setting up 'smallbusiness/Europe'.

This is about implementing the European Small Firms Charter, which has as its aims: simpler regulation, representation to match that of big companies, cheaper, faster start-up rules for new businesses and entrepreneurs, top-class support and better access to finance.

Run by small business for small business, the UK's EU office in Brussels, smallbusiness/

Europe was set up last April to represent and co-ordinate views of UK small firms and act as a voice against over-regulation and bureaucracy.

It has 275,000 funding from the DTI and claims to play a constructive role in intercepting and influencing new regulation.

There are 20 million small businesses in Europe, accounting for 99 per cent of all businesses and providing jobs for 65 million people.

UK SMEs employ 12 million people and contribute 1 trillion a year to the economy.

The report follows the declaration by member states at Feira, Portugal in June 2000 to make the EU the world's best environment for small firms.