With a 2021-2027 budget of 4,088,580,000 euros, of which 1,000,000,000 to be allocated to the competitiveness of businesses, the Single Market Programme (SMP) covers the single market, competitiveness of enterprises, including small and medium-sized enterprises, the area of plants, animals, food and feed, and European statistics.
Several EU programmes were adopted to fund these sectors in the past and some activities were financed directly under internal market budget lines. The SMP brings together these aspects to streamline and exploit synergies and provide for a more flexible, transparent, simplified and agile framework to finance activities aiming at a well-functioning sustainable internal market. The role of SMEs in the Programme is accordingly crucial to improve the effectiveness of the single market functioning, reducing overlaps and concentrating investments in sectors where their impact can be laver up.
One of the specific objectives of the new program is to improve the competitiveness of enterprises, with particular attention to SMEs, through various measures in support of enterprises. In particular, the new program aims to:
- provide financial support through, for example, grants and loan guarantees under the Investee Fund.
- facilitate access to markets and reduce administrative burdens.
- support the diffusion of innovation and address global and social challenges.
- promote a business-friendly environment and an entrepreneurial culture.
The Internal Market – The SMP aims to ensure that citizens and businesses enjoy the benefits of the internal market and that they are aware and can exercise rights and take advantage of opportunities provided by the EU. The SMP will implement and enforce and develop rules in areas including company and contract law, anti-money laundering and the free movement of capital. The SMP will ensure financial services meet the needs of consumers, civil society and end-users and enhance tools and expertise of the Commission to enforce effectively competition rules in the digital economy.
Effective standards – The SMP will provide financial support to organisations that develop European-wide standards to ensure that products and services meet an agreed level of quality and safety.
Competitiveness (particularly of SMEs) – The SME Strand of the SMP will provide various forms of support to businesses in particular SMEs to foster a favourable business environment and entrepreneurial culture, facilitate access to markets, reduce administrative burden, support uptake of innovation and address global and societal challenges.
Protect consumers – The SMP helps make sure products on the market are safe and consumers know the rules and helps national authorities to work efficiently together and communicate swiftly.
For increasing the competitiveness of enterprises, in particular SMEs, the following actions are eligible for funding:
- provision of various forms of support for SMEs;
- facilitating the access of SMEs to markets and supporting them in addressing global and social challenges and the internationalization of businesses;
- strengthening the Union’s industrial leadership in global value chains, including the Enterprise Europe Network;
- removing market barriers and administrative burdens and creating a business-friendly environment to enable SMEs to benefit from the internal market;
- facilitating business growth, including skills development, and industrial transformation in the manufacturing and service sectors;
- support for the competitiveness of businesses and entire sectors of the economy, adoption of innovation by SMEs and their collaboration along the value chain through the strategic connection of ecosystems and clusters, including the initiative for collaboration between clusters;
- promotion of a favourable environment for entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial culture, including the mentoring system for new entrepreneurs and support for start-ups, business sustainability and rapidly expanding businesses.
Among the instruments identified, the Enterprise Europe Network will offer an integrated advisory package to SMEs on how to innovate and grow internationally, and debt and equity financing will be available under the SME section of the InvestEU Fund. The EEN call is now published here, on the EU Funding & tender opportunities portal.