The European Court of Auditors has recently published a report on EU funding allocated to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) selling services and/or goods online. According to the report, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) has contributed to the development of the SMEs involved in the e-commerce sector but more work needs to be done.
European Commission supports e-commerce through “Digital Agenda”
Ecommerce Europe welcomes the effort of the European Commission in encouraging the development of the online selling sector through its Digital Agenda for Europe programme. The European Court of Auditors report indicates that small and medium sized businesses are often slow to adopt new developments in the ICT sector and the European funds are intended to help them.
Thanks to the funds allocated through the ERDF, 3 billion euros was budgeted between 2007 and 2013 to help SMEs make better use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Unfortunately only 60% of the money has been allocated to such projects, according to the European Court of Auditors report.
SMEs helped to go online through funds
The European Union’s auditors concluded that Member States’ operational programmes (which set out a region’s priorities for delivering the funds) served as a good basis for providing support to SMEs in the field of e-commerce, which implemented the projects smoothly. The majority of enterprises which received funds were able to go online by means of creating a website, and about a third of them were able to conduct online sales after the project. SMEs also made good use of the IT development systems that were offered to them.
New funds available for e-commerce businesses
For the new funding period from 2014-2020 the European Commission has appointed new funding programmes to stimulate cross-border e-commerce and SME competitiveness. The 2014-2020 programme for Digital Growth entails regional funds enhancing access to and quality of ICT, developing e-skills, developing e-commerce, and the cross-border provision of services. Member States’ governments guarantee the selection of projects that maximize added value among applicants in terms of fostering e-commerce development in SMEs and achieving the targets set by the Digital Agenda for Europe (33% of SMEs to make online sales and purchases by 2015).
For further information please download the full report “Has ERDF support to SMEs in the area of e-commerce been effective?” by clicking here. For further information on funds available under the 2014-2020 funding programme, Ecommerce Europe members can contact Team Brussels.