Environmental Action Programme
As the programme setting the EU environmental policy priorities for 2020, UEAPME is keen to see an enhanced place for SMEs in the 7th EAP.
UEAPME answered the consultation on the assessment of the 6th EAP and shares the inherent mission of the EAPs, ensure a high level of environmental protection. This is not in contradiction with the SMEs interests. However, policymakers and we (as representatives of SMEs) have to make sure that the environmental principles do not put SMEs in risk with too many mandatory and costly requirements and also, that SMEs are able to abide by the environmental laws.
We believe that for SMEs and environment policies to work smoothly together the only way is to set up a favourable regulatory and policy framework specifically for SMEs. Such a framework should consist of:
- Information: SMEs should benefit from awareness-raising campaigns specifically addressed at them in cooperation with national SME organisations;
- Technical assistance: SMEs that want to improve their environmental performance should be supported through technical assistance schemes offered for free or at a reduced price;
- Financial incentives: Despite the current budgetary constraints, financial support should be offered especially for the R&D phase and market deployment of green products and services.
- Access to finance: It is important that when SMEs know what they can do to become more sustainable, they can obtain the finance that is needed. In this respect, the financial sector needs to become more aware of environmental issues;
- Skills: There are skills mismatches in the labour markets. SMEs are expecting to hire more employees with environmental expertise; the availability of appropriate skills is especially important and needs to be addressed.
The 7th EAP as the main programme for environmental policy must set the basis for such a framework.