EuroCommerce, which represents the retail and wholesale sector in Brussels, and SMEunited have made a joint 'call for action' to address the challenges facing SMEs and the businesses they serve.
Speaking in the context of the SME Assembly, which is being held in Slovenia this week, Véronique Willems, secretary-general of SMEunited and Christel Delberghe, the recently-appointed director general of EuroCommerce, underlined the importance of SMEs to both urban and rural communities.
The Importance Of SMEs
“We have worked together for many years to highlight the importance of SMEs, making up 99.8% of enterprises in Europe, including in retail and wholesale," said Delberghe.
"In cooperating today at a dedicated session on urban rejuvenation at the SME Assembly, we aim to underline the difficulties faced by SMEs operating in town centres and look for action to help both businesses and local communities to maintain and build up lively town centres."
As Delberghe noted, town centres have seen vacancies increase, a reflection of the changing way in which people live, while rural communities also suffer if local services disappear.
"Our two organisations are calling for an ambitious revitalisation programme at EU, national and local level to reverse this trend, which undermines communities, hits employment and leads to an unsafe environment," she said.
"In planning ways of making the towns and villages attractive places to visit, live, work and do business the whole community, including organisations of local businesses covering all economic activities (services, tourism, hospitality, retail, manufacturing, etc.) must be involved."
Developing A Europe-Wide Programme
She called for the establishment of a Europe-wide programme targeting SMEs and micro businesses, "raising awareness and providing expertise and support to entrepreneurs to go online to better reach their customers and transform their business models to succeed in the digital and sustainability transitions."
Communities themselves should also be brought together to share experience and exchange best practice, she added.
"We therefore ask the EU, and national, regional and local governments to dedicate funding to urgently address these challenges and secure the future of communities and the people living and working there," said Delberghe.
© 2021 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest Retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.