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An ambitious programme to achieve a green Europe driven by the new European Commission will focus heavily on small businesses, writes Chris White for EUToday.

The new administration is expected to encourage small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to embrace new technology and innovations to cut carbon delegates to the annual SME Assembly in Helsinki were told.

In the capital of Finland, which plans to be carbon neutral by 2025 delegates were told that technological innovation is a money saving strategy. 

Describing the conference as “a great success” Kristin Schreiber, Director of the  COSME programme and SME policy said that delegates were “the envoys off small business”. She told EU Today: “Climate change has created a new political climate and for good reasons has impacted on policies. We are now looking at policies that are socially and environmentally sustainable. Under the so-called Green Deal coming with the new Commission it is necessary to look at different aspects of business.”

Responding to the many questions put by delegates she added: “The Green Deal is not even out yet. The new Commission is about to take office but we have a competitive edge in Europe however, my concern is that there should be a proper transition”.

Of the new Commission’s policies she emphasised to delegates that “a targeted strategy and all encompassing support will be at the heart of the new policy”. We need an atmosphere of sustainability considering environment and social issues.

In an opening presentation Prof Mariana Mazzucato reflected the Commissions commitment she described how sustainable growth can be linked to greening which she described as being consumption led. 

Her key point was that public money should help to finance green innovation. “In the case of green technology government leads and business follows”. But she warned: Public financing should not be simply a handout thing, public finance should be entrepreneurial giving back benefits to society”.

Reporting that increasing numbers of small firms are greening and finding that it saves them money Professor Daniel Isenberg  said adding that a “phenominal growth in SME policy is needed. The call at this conference for firms to scale up has to be linked to the ecosphere and making it possible for firms to grow more rapidly”. 

The head of EU and International Affairs at Finland’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment Janne Käukänen summed up the conference message as: “We need entrepreneurs but we also need governments with the right policies. SMEs with their efficiency and ability to move swiftly are at the centre of the climate change programme of measures.

“We have high hopes of the new European Commission that it will be the promoter of economic growth. We will need new skills and new technology for a carbon neutral technology”.

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