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breaking news A challenge and an opportunity for SMEs

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“The EU and the Member States should set up the right framework to support industrial SMEs reducing their environmental emissions to the minimum and making the zero pollution pledges mentioned in the Action Plan”. This is one of the key messages brought forward by President Alban Maggiar during the webinar “Zero Pollution Businesses: is this feasible?” jointly organised with Eurochambres this week on the Zero Pollution Action Plan. President Maggiar added that “Legislation plays an important role in this field. However, legislation per se cannot be the solution to all problems if it is not SME-fit from the very beginning.”

Moreover, in his introductory speech the President also highlighted the important role played by SMEs in some sectors to reduce pollution in our society: “Thanks to SMEs in construction buildings produce fewer CO2 emissions, use renewable energy and have a cleaner indoor air. It is also thanks to SMEs if there are more and more greener spaces in our cities. They help reduce pollution, increase local biodiversity and improve our physical and mental health thanks to lots of nature-based solutions.”

The webinar foresaw a panel as well, where representatives of both SMEunited and Eurochambres discussed with Mrs. Veronica Manfredi, Director for Quality of life in DG Environment, the framework conditions for companies, big and small, to minimize pollution. Among the challenges mentioned by Vice-President Ulrike Rabmer-Koller we find the overwhelming bureaucracy faced by SMEs subject to emissions legislation as well as the cost of new technology necessary to reduce pollution further.

She declared: “The lockdowns put in place to contain the pandemic have had a serious negative impact on the investment capacity of many SMEs, due to huge loan burdens. Therefore, nowadays most SMEs have little money, which is used to remain open. The national recovery and resilience plans could make the difference here if they contain robust measures to support SMEs in the green transition and if they are swiftly implemented”. Vice-President Rabmer-Koller also pointed out that the combination of innovation, investments and information, namely the ‘3 I’, is the winning card for the situation to improve in this area.

The webinar was also the right opportunity for SMEunited and Eurochambres to release a joint position paper on the Zero Pollution Action Plan.

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