Scale up policies to scale up business

Commentary by Arnaldo Abruzzini, CEO, EUROCHAMBRES

If we are to encourage businesses to succeed and expand, we need to adopt policies which will make it easier for them to fulfil their potential.

Linking fast-growing companies with suitable investors is essential to EU competitiveness. It was ever thus, but it has become a particularly pressing challenge in the last seven or eight years. In this context, the 1000 Companies to Inspire Europe deserve our warm congratulations and our gratitude.

But these 1000 companies, as well as potential future members of this exclusive group, need much more than congratulations and gratitude. To fulfil their potential, it is vital that we put in place policy measures that will facilitate their progress. At the moment, business success and rapid growth of the type described in this report are too often achieved despite, rather than because of, the conditions encountered.

To help European companies to scale up, policy measures across the EU28 also need to be scaled up. Whatever the optimal policy level, key elements in enhancing EU competitiveness need to be developed in a more complementary manner across Europe if they are to havea wide-scale positive impact.

This is the rationale behind the single market, the holy grail of competitiveness at EU level. Market access is critical to the scalability of companies and investments alike, so genuine progress towards a single market – for people, for capital, for products, for services, for online and for offline – is a sine qua non to a scale-up friendly Europe.

What is needed for the completion of the single market is well documented. In the last 12 months alone, we have seen the adoption by the European Commission of the Digital Single Market, the Capital Markets Union and the Single Market Strategy. Few policy-makers disagree on what is needed, but regrettably many fail to deliver. Member States, in particular, must commit themselves to ensuring the execution of what they endorse at EU Summits and Council meetings when they return to their capitals.

"Genuine progress towards a single market is a sine qua non to a scale-up-friendly Europe"

The single market must be real to the business community. A scale-up from Latvia should be able to attract investors from Rome as easily as from Riga. A game developer from the Netherlands should be able to sell its new creation as easily to a client in Annecy as to one in Arnhem. A shoemaker from Ireland should be able to distribute its new models as easily via shops in Düsseldorf as in Dublin. Yet many non-tariff barriers remain in place to such companies. They must be broken down.

A fully functioning single market will address both sides of the scale-up financing equation. It will provide companies with improved access to markets and thus facilitate growth, while at the same time allowing the cross-border flow of capital and thus a wider range of investment opportunities and solutions. It will also, in turn, allow the EU to strengthen its position on the global stage and facilitate companies’ access to third country markets.

EUROCHAMBRES thanks London Stock Exchange Group for showcasing Europe’s fastest-growing companies, an important tool in demonstrating to policy-makers why Europe needs to become not just start-up friendly, but also scale-up friendly. Chambers are working at all levels to ensure that the rhetoric of the single market becomes the reality for businesses.

EUROCHAMBRES is The Association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry and represents over 20 million enterprises in Europe – 98% of which are SMEs. www.eurochambres.eu