Welsh Conservatives in the European Parliament
Dr Kay Swinburne MEP

A small step towards helping SMEs in Europe, 24.02.11

Welsh Conservative MEP, Dr Kay Swinburne, has welcomed the European Commission’s review of the Small Business Act (SBA), a framework of both legislative and non-legislative initiatives which seek to reduce the administrative burdens for SMEs; facilitate better access to finance; and open new markets, both within the Single Market and beyond.
Kay said it is encouraging that the SBA has made progress towards addressing the issues which prevent SMEs from growing, such as:
  • a review of the EU’s ‘Late Payments Directive’ - this will ensure SMEs' cash flow is not affected by late payers;
  • an ‘SME test’ for new Commission proposals;
  • a new SME centre in China which will assist small businesses in accessing the emerging marketplace; and
  • after a lengthy parliamentary battle, a solution has been found for a European Patent - the Parliament agreed on a proposal last week which will enable some 11 countries to go ahead with a single patenting procedure.
Another proposal includes a review of EU public procurement rules. Only, last month, the Commission proposed to reform these rules so that public procurement, which accounts for around 17 percent of the EU's GDP, can help businesses to innovate and to make more contracts available to SMEs. This will be particularly beneficial to SMEs in Wales and help foster economic vitality.

The SBA review published today contains a number of examples of good practice measures; however Kay is concerned that not all national governments are implementing many of the suggestions put forward by the Commission. For example, only nine EU countries have integrated an SME test into their national decision making, and only eight countries had started to promote the EU code of best practices to help SMEs gain access to the public procurement market.

Kay said:
“The review of the SBA really could not have come at a better time, given the current economic climate. Businesses across Wales will welcome the EU’s commitment to making their lives easier and providing the much needed support they have been asking for, such as better access to credit.
“I am particularly pleased with the Commission’s willingness to review the public procurement rules, particularly since that at present approximately 42% of public procurement in the EU goes to SMEs. However, it is a shame that WAG do not currently monitor their contracts to ensure that SME involvement is promoted in Wales. With a £4.3bn annual procurement budget of which some 50% of public procurement was awarded to Welsh based companies, WAG need to ensure that Welsh SMEs benefit from these valuable contracts. WAG needs to dramatically improve its monitoring and implement the EU code of best practice as soon as possible for the benefit of Welsh businesses.
“Progress that has been made with the creation of a European Patent is encouraging as it will go someway in supporting budding innovators and entrepreneurs in Wales.
“Wales has a wealth of talented businessmen whose ideas need to be harnessed and encouraged without burdening them with regulation. SMEs hold the key to economic regeneration in Wales and I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that the European Commission fully understands what they require and will continue to fight against any further EU legislation that will negatively affect Welsh businesses.”
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The European Commission has today designated European Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status to the well-known Pembrokeshire Early Potato from West Wales.
The Pembrokeshire Early Potato was one of only three quality farm products whose applications for PGI status were approved today.
The EU PGI schemes protect product names against misuse and under these schemes more than 1200 products are already protected.
Commenting on this announcement from the European Commission today Dr Kay Swinburne MEP – who is from West Wales - said:
"I am delighted to see that this application to have "Pembrokeshire Earlies" added to the register of PGI products has been approved by the European Commission today."

"Achieving this prestigious status is a clear acknowledgment of the high-quality and distinctive produce we continue to deliver in Wales. Pembrokeshire Early Potatoes thoroughly deserve their place alongside the well-known food and drink products from right across the EU which already feature on the PGI register."


Kay was delighted to host an event to celebrate Higher Education, Science and Innovation in Wales last night in the European Parliament.  The event builds on the British Council’s “Strategic Analysis of the Welsh Higher Education Sector, Distinctive Assets”.  A number of experts spoke to share their views of Welsh HE at the event and how it can develop in the future.

In advance of the 'Fox-Hafner Report' vote on the single seat for the European Parliament, Kay and the other UK Conservative MEPs feel it is right to draw attention to the fact that the seven-year cost of the dual-seat arrangement comes to £928,000,000. Since her election to the European Parliament in 2009, Kay has strongly supported bringing the monthly Parliamentary meetings in Strasbourg to an end and therefore saving taxpayers a considerable sum of money.


Kay was delighted to meet Malala Yousafzai, who was awarded the EU's Sakharov Human Rights Prize at the European Parliament today.

Following Malala’s speech to the European Parliament, Kay said, “What an inspirational speech Malala gave to the Members of the European Parliament today. As a mother of young children myself, I hope that they can also aspire to achieve like her. Malala is an exceptional young lady who has overcome adversity by tremendous force of character and a passionate belief in the right of everybody to enjoy and benefit from education.”   


Kay was very pleased to meet with members of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Group at the European Parliament in Brussels, one of four groups set up in key Welsh research strengths to engage with EU research funds. The delegation visiting Brussels included representatives from Cardiff University, Bangor University, Swansea University and Trinity St.Davids University.

In advance of tomorrow's European Council meeting of leaders, Dr Swinburne has echoed the recommendations made in a recent report published by a number of business leaders, which highlights the importance of removing barriers to business competitiveness in Europe and getting rid of burdensome legislation by cutting EU red tape.

Last year Dr Swinburne encouraged businesses in Wales to highlight to the European Commission which over-burdensome regulations they would like to see slashed, by writing to small businesses all over Wales and asking them to tell her their red-tape problems.

Electronic cigarettes no longer face being taken off the shelves by the EU after Conservative MEPs were successful today in amending EU legislation on tobacco labelling.

Conservative MEP's led the amendment to defeat proposals that would have classified e-cigarettes as medicinal products, meaning they would have to undergo an overly burdensome and costly authorisation procedure, which would go beyond the procedures for traditional tobacco products... (Read more under 'Articles')



Welsh Conservative MEP Kay Swinburne has been sitting down with leaders in Europe's biotech field to choose the top five candidates to compete in this year's EuropaBio Most Innovative EU Biotech SME Award.

As a member of this year's judging committee, Kay is once again supporting the EuropaBio award, which has attracted applications from all three sectors of biotechnology - healthcare, industrial and agricultural, from across the EU... (Read more under 'Articles')


WELSH Conservative MEP Dr Kay Swinburne today hailed a vote in the European Parliament as a "wake-up call" in the battle to save Europe's endangered languages.

MEPs meeting in Strasbourg backed a report which calls on governments across the EU to develop action plans to encourage continued linguistic diversity.

The report, written by Corsican MEP François Alfonsi, also says governments should be "more attentive" to threats which may lead to languages becoming extinct.

Dr Swinburne, who was a shadow rapporteur for the report, has argued that Welsh can be seen as a positive example of language revitalisation which communities across the EU should follow... (Read more under 'Articles')

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