Press Release

Industrial Strategy package: SMEs need enforcement, not words


EUROCHAMBRES, the association of European Chambers of Commerce & Industry, has expressed its disappointment with the Industrial Strategy adopted by the European Commission today on SMEs, Industrial Policy and the Single Market. Despite containing some positive elements, the overall package does not convince the Chamber network that it will make a perceptible difference for the businesses striving to drive Europe’s competitiveness.

 “The global economy is evolving rapidly, and major new challenges and opportunities are emerging. Today’s industrial strategy does not offer enough to convince our 20 million+ member businesses – especially SMEs – that they will be at the centre of the von der Leyen Commission’s thinking,” commented EUROCHAMBRES President, Christoph Leitl.

 SME Strategy and enforcement

Chambers recognise the importance of the many issues addressed in the SME Strategy, but they question whether the proposed measures content will collectively generate substantial improvements to European small businesses’ conditions. We underline the importance of translating measures in reality. Enforcement is key.

President Leitl elaborated: “This is not a strategy, it’s a list of issues and measures. President von der Leyen rightly speaks of a Union that strives for more, but we will only achieve more if our millions of SMEs are further empowered to contribute to sustainability, digitalisation, competitiveness and job creation. Our SMEs need to see greater ambition from policy-makers!”

 Industrial Policy and enforcement

Chambers support the Commission’s intention to focus on a number of strategic areas and on enhancing the elements of a number of key value chains, taking into account regional and local strengths. Nonetheless, at first glance, the added value of the new Industrial Strategy for Europe remains unclear.

Single Market barriers and enforcement

 EUROCHAMBRES supports the strong focus on better delivering existing legislation in the Long-Term Action Plan on Enforcement of Single Market rules. Chambers therefore welcome the introduction of new enforcement measures such as an improved Single Market Scoreboard and the set-up of a joint Single Market Enforcement Task Force. However, the future success of these initiatives depends to a large extent to the constructive cooperation of the Member States.

President Leitl said: “The EU should have three priorities for the Single Market during this term: enforcement, enforcement and enforcement! Our companies need and deserve the proper application of existing Single Market rules. We must end to the harmful trend of Member States agreeing on rules with which they then fail to comply.”

Note:  A recent EUROCHAMBRES survey of over 1.100 European businesses – referred to in the Commission’s SME Strategy – reveals that 83% of businesses want European policy-makers, including national governments, to improve the implementation and enforcement of EU law.