- Neil McMillan, Director of Public Affairs and Trade, EuroCommerce
- Petri Peltonen, Finnish SME Envoy
- Ivan Štefanec, Member of the European Parliament and President of SME Europe
- Jasmin Battista, DG CNECT, European Commission
- Katerina Borunska, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission
- Birgit Winn, Head of Digital Projects, Hospitality.Digital, METRO AG
- Alexandre Nilo Fonseca, President of ACEPI (Portuguese Digital Economy Association)
- Mira-Maria Kontkanen, Advisor, Federation of Finnish Enterprises
- Marta Mikliszanska, Head of Public Affairs, Allegro
- Michael Acton, MLex Market Insights
- Henrik Reimer, Head of Office, SME Connect
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About the debate
The digital transformation of the economy is underway, offering new market opportunities in Europe and all over the world. This technological shift is fostering both innovation and exchanges across EU borders, as well as the opportunity to secure a share in the emerging markets for current and future products and services.
Within this context, micro as well as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are of strategic importance as they create two thirds of jobs in the private sector and contribute to more than half of the total added value generated by businesses in the EU. As the latest Annual Report on European SMEs states, the re-emergence of SMEs has continued over recent years, as this sector made a significant contribution to the recovery and subsequent expansion of the EU economy by accounting for 47% of the value added generated by the non-financial business sector between 2008 and 2017, and for 52% of the cumulative increase in employment in the sector.
However, SMEs are not taking full advantage of digitalisation offered by advanced technologies and innovative business models yet. They are faced with several challenges, from market access, to fully benefitting from public and private finance, the need to scale up, as well as to handle both data management and cyber threats. It is therefore crucial that the regulatory framework, SME instruments and programmes, such as the Digital Europe funding programme of the European Commission, ensure fair access to the single market and stimulate innovation. In addition, strengthening the regulatory framework of the Digital Single Market for SMEs should also include a constant reflection on existing policies and the need to further adapt them to the challenges of a fast-changing and increasingly competitive global environment.
The event will commence with a welcome drink at 18.00, followed by a panel debate at 18.30. After the panel debate there will be an opportunity for questions and discussions.
We look forward to seeing you at 18.00 on Wednesday, the 16th of October at the premises of The Office, rue d’Arlon, 80, Brussels.
The debate will be followed by a drink in a convivial atmosphere.
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