Employer and business associations, especially in the Craft, Trade and SME sector in Europe are quite different and the European Commission has undertaken several studies to analyse the representativity and the activities of European and national employer and business associations. However until now, there were no comprehensive analyses about the reasons for these differences, which according to our hypothesis, come from different political, social, legal and cultural environments. This would mean that governments and parliaments, which are responsible for these framework conditions, have an important influence on the ability of SMEs to set up and develop their associations. Therefore, UEAPME - the European Association of Crafts, Trades, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises - engaged an international research team to study these issues.
At the Final Workshop, in December 2004, the main findings of the country studies were presented in the final report and discussed with representatives from the different SME associations.
This workshop drafted political conclusions form the point of view of SME associations.
The European Conference presented the conclusions of the study and discussed the political implications of the results for SME associations. It also focused on SME associations in the New Member States, which are in a period of transition and could build on the experiences of other associations.