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SMALL BUSINESSES: CALL FOR HELP IN GETTING LOANS FOR SMES.

Mr Prodi said that the current low level of economic growth in Europe was leading to a stagnation in employment: "While the research industry in going West to the US, manufacturing is heading East to Eastern Europe and Asia. We cannot accept this de-industrialisation and we must increase the quality of our industries."

The Commission President accepted that certain banking trends could hinder growth and innovation, such as banking mergers which result in smaller banks disappearing from rural areas. He said that there were many private sector investors willing to spend money on trans-European projects, but they find the regulatory environment too hostile. This view was echoed by Mr Muller: "Due to restrictive and complex rules, SMEs across Europe find it extremely difficult to get access to funds. There are so many rules that are often impossible to fulfil."

Mrs Diamantopoulou outlined the problem of skilled workers. "It is almost easier to find money to invest in projects than it is to find skilled workers. Putting funds into the economy is not enough, we need to invest in grass-roots capital."

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Title Annotation:small-medium business enterprises
Publication:European Report
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Oct 4, 2003
Words:180
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