SMEs bloom in Europe – Greece the exception

SMEs bloom in Europe – Greece the exception

Athens, October 12, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris

In Brussels on October 9, 2015, the European organization of Small and Medium Enterprises (UEAPME), of which ESEE is a member, presented the Business Climate Index for SMEs, showing that European SMEs express more confidence in their financial future, since the index increased by 2.7 percentage points to 75 for the whole European Union.

Moreover, the confidence gap between the countries of the South to the countries of the North and the Centre for the Region of Europe, fell to the lowest level observed since the beginning of the crisis on government bonds. During this four-month period, the difference between the two regions reached its lowest level since the beginning of the debt crisis. The confidence level in Southern Europe has increased by 5.1 percentage points in the first half and the SMEs expect to exceed the neutral level of 70 points in the second half of the year. This is a clear indication that structural reforms in some countries of the South have begun to bear fruit.

The Barometer of UEAPME for SMEs, shows that the first half of 2015 exceeded market expectations. Every economic indicator barometer of SMEs saw improvements in the first half of 2015, but even more important is that each of the six criteria that exceeded expectations six months ago, are fueling even higher expectations for the second half of 2015. At the same time, it seems that SMEs still use existing skills and even not see the need for new investments and hiring additional staff in the near future, with the exception of the manufacturing sector. For this reason, SMEs need a stable economic outlook and better conditions lending in order to transform these positive signals on a stable and sustainable long-term economic growth.

The Director of the Research Unit of UEAPME, Mr. Gerhard Huemer, who presented the research, explained:

“The significant increase observed for SMEs in the Business Expectations Index is a clear sign that the European economy is stabilising. However, the vast majority of companies still report a neutral attitude, but positive answers outweigh the negative ones. The main reason for the improvement seems to be the increase of domestic demand, which is now showing more confidence in local businesses, while larger manufacturing SMEs have already benefited from the export trade, which shows signs of recovery from the second half of 2014. The survey also shows a continued expansion, particularly in the eurozone, supported by both low prices of commodities and the recent depreciation of the euro. However, there is still not enough momentum in the growth to sufficiently accelerate the creation of new jobs and the increase of investments, which are critical components to create long-term recovery. The main Barometer package shows that the real economy seems to be close to a period of growth and European SMEs are able to enter this path in the next six months, but stability and support are essential to turn it into investment and job creation”.

The chairman of the EERA and vice chairman of UEAPME, Vasilis Korkidis, highlights in regard to the research:

“The UEAPME is the European social partner of employers, which represents manufacturing, commerce and SMEs from the EU and other countries at European level. The UEAPME has 80 member organizations, covering over 12 million enterprises with 55 million employees. The acceleration of economic growth among European SMEs, according to the European Climate Index, does not appear in Greece and that disappoints us. The optimism shown in the Barometer, the first signs of improvement in the labour market and anticipation of investments, does not echo in the Greek market. What’s worrying is that, according to the findings, we are “staying behind” not only from the other countries of the European North, but also from those of the South”.