Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2011-10-24-Speech-1-116-000"

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"Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the Small Business Act is a fine thing; it is not a law, however, but a proclamation. If we want the Commission genuinely to set an example – as Mr Theurer said – as regards an SME-friendly approach, then we need to pay attention to two things in particular: to the question of funding, and to the question of decision-making options. I would like to make three points regarding these. Firstly, research programmes. I am still not happy with the way that the negotiations between the Directorate-General on Enterprise and Industry and the Directorate-General on Research and Innovation have been conducted to date concerning the future of what we have come to know as the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme, which has been an extremely beneficial programme for small and medium-sized enterprises. We will have to see how the Business Competitiveness and SME Programme works in future. This House must impose one criterion on the Commission, however. For small and medium-sized enterprises, it is not just a matter of more funding; it is also a matter of making access to these programmes easier and less bureaucratic than was the case previously. It is also a matter of adopting a broad definition of innovation. This was one of the main topics when representatives of SMEs met in Brussels a few weeks back for the European SME Week. One of the principal aspects that they want us to consider is that innovation is more than just research, particularly for these small and medium-sized enterprises. Innovation by small and medium-sized enterprises can also make a contribution to the great social challenges. That is why we must make things more accessible for them, and not leave them dependent on the large enterprises that have plenty of resources for research. It is time for the Commission to show that its fine words can also be put into practice for the benefit of small and medium-sized enterprises. Now for my second point: Structural Funds. I am grateful that Commissioner Barnier has mentioned this. Access for small and medium-sized enterprises needs to be drastically improved. We need to have local and regional partnerships between the public sector, research facilities, universities and small and medium-sized enterprises. There are many outstanding examples of this, such as Steinbeis or Innovation Vouchers, or the example of Cambridge. There are many examples from which we can learn how to improve the position of small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe. One final point: we also need to give SMEs greater responsibility when it comes to governance structures. It is regrettable that the Commission has not been able to give small and medium-sized enterprises voting rights in its proposal for the renewal of standardisation."@en1

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