Global Gateway: SMEs voice their requests to the Commission

  • On 24 April, Commission hosted the Global Gateway Business Advisory Group’s second plenary meeting

  • A joint discussion paper between SME organisations and companies of the Global Gateway Business Advisory Group (BAG) was presented, outlining European SMEs’ proposals for actions to better involve European SMEs in Global Gateway activities

  • Enabling SMEs to add value to local economic ecosystems through additional services, the adaptation of eligibility criteria in public procurement rules, and the creation of a one-stop-shop with clear guidelines are some of the necessities presented in the paper to better engage SMEs in the Global Gateway

Integrating SMEs into the Global Gateway

Started in December 2021, the Global Gateway is a global initiative by the European Union to invest in infrastructure projects across the world. €300 billion of overall investments are expected between 2021-2027, covering sustainable and high-quality projects in different partner countries.

The Global Gateway strategy is supported by the private sector through an informal Commission expert group. Launched in September 2023, the Global Gateway Business Advisory Group (BAG) supports the European Commission in the implementation of the Global Gateway, through cooperation with relevant private sector stakeholders. It is currently composed of 59 members and 10 observers. As a direct member, DIGITAL SME follows the work of the Digital Subgroup.

Following various exchanges with the European Commission services in charge of the implementation of the Global Gateway, a specific SME stream of work was integrated into the Business Advisory Group’s proceedings ahead of the second plenary session. A discussion paper was produced among discussions with the different SME organisations and companies of the Group, and presented in plenary on 24 April.

Recommendations

The attached discussion paper is the reflection of these joint discussions. While the current way Global Gateway flagships operate can encourage SMEs to consider entering new markets, facilitates networking and partnerships, and generally enables stronger political backing, SMEs still suffer from many shortcomings hindering their effective engagement in the Global Gateway’s activities. Complex and unclear procedures, lack of funding, resource constraints, and an unbalanced risk exposure remain strong barriers for SMEs.

Several actions, both short-term and long-term, can help to address this. Creating a one-stop-shop at the European Commission level, providing publicly available guidelines with tailored indications for SME participation, would tackle the informational barrier. Beyond the large flagship projects currently supported under the Global Gateway, complementary modalities of engagement should also be expanded upon. A stronger B2B focus, with matchmaking among companies from Europe and beneficiary countries, would facilitate SME engagement with local partners. Smaller projects should have the possibility to become flagship projects, to be able to better obtain financial support and Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) guarantees. Importantly, eligibility criteria in public procurement rules should be adapted: minimum turnover and international experience conditions should be lowered to promote the inclusion of SMEs, and a minimal percentage of SMEs in Global Gateway projects should be made mandatory.

The most crucial point regards the capacity of the European Union to create long-lasting sustainable economic relationships with local ecosystems in partner countries. European SMEs should be supported by dedicated funds to add value to the economic ecosystems around Global Gateway initiatives, through both additional services and upskilling. Supporting agile SMEs to form partnerships with local companies will further lead to the organic transfer of competencies to local workforces – promoting the new ecosystems’ sustainable development, in a true win-win relationship.

You can read the full discussion paper here.

The Discussion Paper

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