In Prague, the European SME Assembly 2022 took stock of the crises affecting small and medium-sized enterprises and how to turn them into opportunities. It has also honored success stories by awarding the European Prizes for the Promotion of Entrepreneurship.
The energy crisis, inflation and the fragile post-pandemic recovery loomed over the 2022 SME Assembly in Prague, Europe’s flagship event for small and medium-sized enterprises. The focus was, unsurprisingly, on how they can overcome these challenges.
One of the priorities of the European Commission is to reduce gas prices which are hurting businesses. She also wants to strengthen the rules allowing SMEs to be paid more quickly.
“SMEs are suffering from very high energy prices and inflation,” pointed out Hubert Gambs, Deputy Director General of DG GROW at the European Commission. “This means that we must ensure that they are paid on time: this is why the Commission has launched the initiative which aims to revise the directive on late payments,” he clarifies. “On energy prices, we need a solution at European level, a mechanism that allows energy prices to be lowered consistently across the European Union,” he says.
The thorny question of how to bring down energy prices
At the moment, Member States cannot agree on how to bring down energy prices. The Czech Republic, which holds the rotating presidency of the Union for six months, is trying to negotiate an agreement.
On the occasion of this HouseJozef Síkela, Czech Trade Minister, called for unity before the holding of a new Extraordinary Council on Energy scheduled for mid-December.
“We have to rise to the occasion again because Vladimir Putin is in place in the Kremlin and waiting for us to tear ourselves apart,” he believes at the microphone of euronews before adding: “Let me refer to this quote from Winston Churchill, ‘Unity is strength, disunity weakens us’ [“United we stand, divided we fall”]. It is extremely important to keep this in mind for the next Extraordinary Council when we discuss the next package of measures,” he suggests.
Energy difficulties that represent an opportunity?
The great hope of European Union leaders is that the current energy difficulties can be transformed into an opportunity and contribute to accelerating the green transition.
To achieve this, innovative SMEs like Devinn will play a crucial role. The Czech company has developed a mobile hydrogen generator, a zero-emission alternative to standard models.
“In general, when you need a mobile power source that is not connected to the electricity grid, you have to use diesel or other fossil fuels,” says Tomáš Schwarz, Marketing Director at Devinn. “But you can now use hydrogen and produce electricity without CO2 emissions, only water is rejected,” he explains.
the european post-pandemic recovery plan requires member states to dedicate at least 37% of the funds they receive to the green transition, a key objective made even more urgent by the war in Ukraine.
In addition to examine the main challenges facing companiesthe annual meeting of SMEs awards the European Awards for Promoting Entrepreneurship.
This year, the Grand Jury Prize was awarded to a Belgian initiative called “Love to be Free” which connects and represents the self-employed.
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European Assembly of SMEs 2022: crises and hope
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