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.