We’ve been exploring the Eurozone crisis in-depth on Debating Europe, including a recent interview with a member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank (ECB). Regular commenter Peter Schellinck has also contributed a lot to this debate, suggesting several times (here and here, for example) that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) could be the key to getting Europe’s economy back on track.
Here’s Peter call for clearer leadership from European politicians:
My plea would be to show leadership courage, take up responsibility and make smart decisions. Europe has been given the tools and the parliament the platform to implement. Don’t waste more time inventing excuses for the decision to address the public needs. Give the means for SME’s to develop NOW, free up money to invest in education and listen to the unemployed youth.
The problem is, of course, how do we pay for increased investment in SMEs? Especially now, in the midst of a crisis when banks and other creditors aren’t exactly keen to extend loans to small businesses? Debating Europe recently interviewed Duncan Niederauer, the CEO of NYSE Euronext – the company that oversees the New York Stock Exchange. We asked him, amongst other things, how European leaders might provide financing to SMEs.
Duncan Niederauer’s response was, essentially, that there are tens of millions of “micro businesses” in Europe that might benefit from unconventional financing approaches – including, for example, a microfinance approach. These are the businesses that, according to Mr Niederauer, Europe’s leaders should really be focusing on. Both Peter and Duncan Niederauer, then, argue that a combination of clear leadership and a refocusing of efforts to prioritise SMEs and “micro-businesses” could help drag Europe out of the current mess it’s in.
What do YOU think? Do you agree that providing financing for small businesses is the key to economic recovery? Or do you think that the crisis is now so severe that only large industries and businesses, able to harness economies of scale and work on a pan-European level, are big enough to really make an impact? Let us know your thoughts in the form below and we’ll take your comments to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.