Europe and Business
European Opportunities for Aberdeenshire Businesses
Membership of the EU offers a wealth of opportunities for businesses in Aberdeenshire. Firstly, the creation of a Single European Market helps to give businesses a level playing field across Europe where goods and services can be freely traded. In practice, this means that EU Member States cannot apply import tariffs to goods from another Member State or restrict their importation if they meet EU standards. In recent years, the EU has increased significantly in size as more and more countries have joined, creating a single market of around 500 million customers.
The EU has also set in place public procurement rules which can assist businesses in accessing government contracts across Europe. In addition to ensuring that businesses are not discriminated against because they are based in a different Member State, the rules also require that contracts above a certain threshold have to be openly published through the Official Journal of the European Union. The notices can be found under the Information and Notices section of the Official Journal which is published daily. Tender information can be accessed at:
There are still practical barriers for businesses (particularly SMEs) to take full advantage of the Single European Market. However, assistance is available from the EU to overcome these. Firstly, the European Commission has set up a portal for SMEs which is a useful point of reference for businesses. It can be accessed at:
In addition, the Enterprise Europe network has been set up to assist SMEs. Enterprise Europe Scotland is the local agency for Aberdeenshire businesses within the wider European network. Enterprise Europe Scotland provides a wealth of information on doing business, finding collaborative partners and increasing SME competitiveness in Europe. The majority of services it provides are free to Scottish organisations. Its website can be accessed at:
European funding is also available through the form of grants and loans. The EU channels grant funding through a variety of programmes which support projects with private sector involvement. In addition, the European Investment Bank (EIB) can provide loans for a wide range of projects to both the public and private sector. Useful websites to help SMEs access European funding include:
The European Commission recognises that past legislation designed to ensure the smooth-running of the internal market has placed an administrative burden on business. In order to address this issue, work is ongoing to simplify European rules and reduce red tape for SMEs. The EU’s Small Business Act (SBA) aims to:
- Improve the overall approach to entrepreneurship;
- Irreversibly anchor the ‘Think Small First’ principle in policy-making from regulation to public service;
- Promote SMEs’ growth by helping them tackle the remaining problems which hamper their development.
The act sets out a number of principles to ensure that EU policy better reflects the needs of SMEs and was based on feedback from stakeholders. An SME Envoy has also been appointed to open up channels of communication between the Commission, SMEs and their representative organisations.