SMEs gets pan-European trade body

SMEs gets pan-European trade body

Small computer firms sing same song for Europe

The European craft and SME employers’ (UEAPME) organisation has created Europe's first body exclusively devoted to small IT businesses.

UEAPME said the Pan European ICT & eBusiness Network for SMEs (PIN-SME) has been formed to bring SMEs dealing with information and communication technology onto the business and political scene, where so far large companies have dominated.

The group's founding members include national SME federations from eight EU countries, including Britain's UKITA, representing more than 50,000 enterprises across Europe.

The newly formed body said it will focus on policy issues such as software patents, ICT standardisation, e-invoicing, e-health and e-skills.

“We believe that European SMEs must speak with one voice on the development of European ICT policies, a voice that is becoming stronger today with the creation of PIN-SME”, said UEAPME secretary general Hans-Werner Müller.

Müller said that the new initiative was rooted in the past battles fought by small businesses on software patents, which reinforce monopolisation in the software sector, damage interoperability and act as a barrier to innovation by SMEs.

He also said that the standardisation process in the ICT sector was a key policy priority.

“We believe that standards are indeed useful for ICT companies operating in the internal market if they are designed according to their needs," Müller said.

"We will work to make sure that ICT SMEs are fully consulted and their views are taken into consideration in the decision-making process.”

PIN-SME's statutes were signed in Brussels on 3 December in the presence of Müller, SME Envoy Françoise Le Bail, MEP Paul Rübig and MEP Jorgo Chatzimarkakis.

Johann Steszgal from the Austrian ICT organisation UBIT has been appointed a s PIN-SME's president, while NORMAPME’s Sebastiano Toffaletti will serve as secretary general.

"The attractiveness of the ICT profession in Europe must be increased," Steszgal said.

"Small businesses in the ICT sector lack qualified personnel, therefore it is crucial to increase ICT-related training opportunities and foster professionals’ mobility.