Recovery and sustainability – how can SMEs achieve both?
Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the beating heart of Europe’s economy, accounting for over 90% of all businesses in the EU and for more than half of its gross domestic product, whilst employing about 100 million EU workers before the pandemic. SMEs bring innovative solutions to challenges like climate change, resource efficiency and social cohesion and help spread this innovation throughout Europe’s regions. They are therefore central to the EU’s twin transitions to a sustainable and digital economy.
Already struggling with long-standing problems such as regulatory burdens and difficulties to access markets, small businesses have been particularly hard-hit by the ongoing COVID crisis. For a successful recovery, a stable and predictable environment for long-term sustainable growth must be re-established as quickly as possible. Sustainability should represent a growth opportunity for all businesses. However, the latest ‘Flash Eurobarometer’ survey on SMEs shows 70% of EU SMEs say they are facing at least one obstacle that prevents their enterprise from becoming sustainable.
From the start-up stage, sustainability is seen as an afterthought for many SMEs, with the focus being on profits, revenue and business growth. This is because sustainability is seen as a long-term investment that often lacks short-term returns, meaning for an emerging entrepreneur, investing in sustainability is less attractive.
The current motto of the COVID recovery is to ‘build back better’, by placing sustainability and the environment at the forefront of our social and economic recovery. How can SMEs be encouraged and supported to recover strongly, whilst also thinking sustainably?
Join this EURACTIV Virtual Conference to discuss the best ways to promote sustainability in the business world following the COVID crisis.
Géraldine Mahieu, Acting Director, Investment, growth and structural reforms, DG ECFIN, European Commission
Milena Angelova, Former VP of the EESC, Rapporteur of the opinion on the EU strategy on SMEs
Josianne Cutajar MEP, Member ITRE Committee, European Parliament
Willem Pieter De Groen, Senior Research Fellow and Head of Financial Markets and Institutions Unit, CEPS
Lucia Silva, Group Head of Sustainability & Social Responsibility, Generali
Brian Maguire, Journalist, EURACTIV
14:30 – 14:35 Welcome
14:35 – 14:50 Panellist statements
14:50 – 15:40 Discussion and Q&A
15:40 – 15:45 Closing statements
+32 (0)2 788 36 86
The EU’s recovery fund and new strategy on sustainable finance will expand the role small firms can play in building back the European economy in a sustainable manner, EU officials said.