EU Industrial Strategy Package

Wednesday, 11 March 2020 - 3:00pm

EU Industrial Strategy Package: An SME strategy ensuring a level playing field for cooperatives 

On 10th of March, the European Commission published its new Industrial Strategy package which aims “to help Europe's industry lead the twin transitions towards climate neutrality and digital leadership.” Cooperatives Europe welcomes the new EU Industrial Strategy which will lead the green and digital transition while driving Europe’s competitiveness.

This comprehensive package includes three flagship initiatives:

(1)   A new Industrial Strategy: This initiative will help deliver on maintaining European industry's global competitiveness and a level playing field, at home and globally, making Europe climate-neutral by 2050 and shaping Europe's digital future.

(2)   A single market that delivers for our businesses and consumers: the EU single market suffers from restrictive and complex national rules, limited administrative capacities, imperfect transposition of EU rules and their inadequate enforcement. The Action Plan adopted today aims at addressing obstacles that arise from violations of EU law. 

(3)   A new SME Strategy: SME’s play a key role in EU’s industry and are central to the success of the new Strategy. New focus will be dedicated to securing access to skills, integration of digital innovation and removal of regulatory and practical obstacles to doing business and scaling up.

Read our full position paper on the SME Strategy initiative. 

Cooperatives Europe welcomes the enabling environment envisioned by the Industrial Strategy and also reminds that many cooperatives are already investing and financing in the green transition. As locally anchored businesses that put people first, a primary mission of cooperatives is to uplift their members, notably by ensuring a greener business environment and invest in their members and communities through upskilling and trainings.

With a large majority of our members being SMEs, we particularly commend the initiative on the new SME strategy and remind of the need to fully integrate the principle of the plurality of business forms, from cooperative enterprises, to all social economy enterprises and traditional businesses, as they are contributing to the European economic development. Furthermore, we particularly welcome the action plan for the Social Economy. We also agree with the main political guidelines that are the main areas in which further actions need to be developed to provide a conducive business environment for SMEs in the European Union. However, we regret that the emphasis on the promotion of entrepreneurship and cooperative entrepreneurship is not mentioned in the European Commission’s initiative.  

Commenting on the Commission’s package, Cooperatives Europe’s Director Agnès Mathis reminded of the importance of ensuring a strong collaboration among the European Commission, the Member States and business organisations that are the direct link with local SMEs. He also reiterated the central role of the SME Envoy, the European Commission’s network that brings together the three aforementioned stakeholders to ensure SME friendly legislative programmes that take into account SME’s interests and concerns:

We welcome the European Commission’s initiative which will support cooperatives, as well as every other type of SME to expand and thrive in this transition towards a greener and a more digital Europe. As an active member of the SME Envoy, Cooperatives Europe will closely monitor the development of the Commission’ initiatives and bring the cooperatives’ voice to the table.

This ambitious package and all elements of the strategies should be translated into concrete measures and actions in every member state of the EU.

Click here to consult our extended position paper on the new SME strategy.