Swapping suits for overalls

01 2007

Swapping suits for overalls

Work experience on the agenda as EU civil servants go behind the scenes in small companies across Europe to see what businesses really need

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Work experience on the agenda as EU civil servants go behind the scenes in small companies across Europe to see what businesses really need.

Invoices left unpaid, unwieldy tax systems hampering investment, rigid employment laws making it hard to hire and fire are just some of the problems facing small companies as they try to keep their heads above water.Now the EU has launched a scheme to get under the skin of small businesses and find out what could make their lives easier.

From the defence sector to the fashion industry, the project aims to place 350 EU officials in small business across Europe by 2009, each time for a week.- 

The first 30 went into companies at the end of 2006 and are now beginning to report back.The officials shadow key staff, learn what makes small firms tick and get an insiders view of what business needs from the EU. The project will show policymakers how laws coming out of Brussels impact on the ground. It will also give the EU a chance to explain what it is doing, face to face with those affected. Vice-president Günter Verheugen got first hand experience as part of the project during his- visit- to a metal factory in Brandenburg.Having spent a week working inside a small French firm and meeting local business people, the deputy in charge of enterprise, Françoise le Bail said: “There is very little awareness among business people of what the commission does for them,“ although she saw “great openness and interest once it is explained.“Clearly explaining the funds that exist to help firms, boosting the participation of “business angels“ to help start-ups, networking to share resources – these are just some of the ideas that are beginning to come out of the project.“Those who we met and who knew about our innovation policy found it too complex“ acknowledged Ms le Bail.- 

She added that this was also the case with European research credits: “more simple solutions are needed.“The next steps will be to find new host companies and match them up with officials. So far a total of 170 companies have come forward and 60 civil servants have been selected. They will be in companies between May and December.Take a closer look at how the project works.

Source by europeanunion

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