David rozing

Belgian SMEs make too little use of EU grants to stimulate exports

Belgian small and medium-sized enterprises make little use of the support on offer from the European Union to stimulate growth on international markets. An article in Friday’s edition of L’Echo puts Belgium 19th in a list of SMEs getting EU support to break into international markets. The article is based on the findings of a report from the European Commission.

Currently the European Commission lends support to 4,000 SMEs in the 28 member states. Just 40 of these (1%) are in Belgium. Of these 90% are in Flanders.   

However, Danny Van Assche of the Flemish small business association told VRT news that the fact that Belgian small and medium sized companies don’t ask for EU support doesn’t mean that they are not international.  

"We have very internationally-minded SMEs, it is just that they don’t ask for European support to stimulate their growth in international markets”.  

Mr Van Assche points out that other countries like the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Denmark are in the same boat.

“They are internationally-minded, but don’t normally asked for EU subsidies.

Companies can receive grants of between 500,000 euro and 2.5 million euro per project. Mr Danny Van Assche concedes that these are considerable sums. “However, asking for a European grant involves a considerable amount of paperwork and a small business ofter doesn’t have the staff for this”.  

Nevertheless, he feels that the Flemish authorities should held SMEs find their way to applying for EU support.