July 4, 2006

SME associations call on Commission to fix ICT Task Force weaknesses

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Brussels, London, Berlin, Warsaw, Ljubljana, 4th July 2006. In an open letter to the EU Commission, six small business associations have called on Commissioners Verheugen and Reding to modify their plans for a task force, designed “to define the future EU policy in ICT”.

The proposed task force mainly consists of large IT firms, such as IBM, Cisco, and Intel, and the undersigning associations accuse the Commission of ignoring the fact that 80 percent of the European IT sector, by value, consists of small and medium-sized firms, who are unrepresented in this task force but must bear the brunt of the policies defined by the EU Commission.

Pieter Hintjens, President of FFII, an association which represents 3500 European IT companies, states: “The idea that we can create EU-wide policy and legislation without input from a broad base has been discredited. The EU must become more inclusive and less elitist if it is to survive the challenges of public opinion in the decades ahead. We are giving the Commission the opportunity to work with the majority now, rather than face mass opposition later when it presents yet one more set of special-interest proposals that damage the market.”

David Ramsden, Chairman of PCG, a cross-sector representative body that represents the interests of 12000 freelancers in the UK points out: “Many of the EU’s most dynamic businesses in the ICT sector are also the smallest. The companies represented by PCG exemplify the significance of small firms to this area of the economy. It is vital that they are fully represented on any Task Force or other body relating to the sector.”

Marco Schulze, spokesman for the 600 German companies of PatentFrei.de adds: “We hope that the European Commission, which ignored the interests of majorities already repeatedly, will take the true mainspring of economic strength – namely the SMEs – into account this time. Europe cannot afford to shape its policies according to the wishes of financially powerful minorities, if it really pursues to reach the Lissabon goals.”

Slawomir Kosz, President of the Polish Software Market Association declares: “I think that representatives of the new member states should be involved, and this is clearly not the case in the current Task Force.”

Stefan Zickgraf, Secretary of CEA-PME, an umbrella assocation of SMEs in Brussels precises: “All relevant SME-stakeholders should be heard to keep up with promises made. CEA-PME represents more than 250.000 SMEs throughout the EU 25, of which an important number are active in the ICT sector. We don’t believe that the actual Task Force sufficiently represents SME interest. Indeed it looks like it is only pretending to do so by giving floor to a single SME-organisation, which cannot on its own integrally represent all SME interests in these matters.”

Andrej Mertlej, President of the Slovene Software Developers Assocation KODA, says: “We must not forget that SAP, Microsoft and Apple were all SMEs once. To grow the big we must foster the small. If the EU is serious about its bet on SMEs, the inclusion of smaller IT companies and their representatives would be considered a strong statement and a bright waypoint.”

Links

Contact information

Benjamin Henrion
FFII Brussels
+32-2-414 84 03 (fixed)
+32-484-56 61 09 (mobile)
bhenrion at ffii.org
(French/English)

About the signatories

About the FFII

The FFII is a not-for-profit association registered in twenty European countries, dedicated to the development of information goods for the public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, open standards. More than 850 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights (intellectual property) in data processing.

About PCG UK

The Professional Contractors Group (PCG) is the not-for-profit trade association that represents the interests of freelance consultants and contractors in the UK. Its aim is to secure full recognition of them as a genuine and valuable sector of the economy, generating wealth and employment and providing industry with a flexible workforce.

About PatentFrei.de

Patentfrei.de is a campaign of the German Entrepreneur’s Initiative “Unternehmer gegen Softwarepatentierung”, which represents more than 600 companies in Germany. The campaign aims at informing the public about the risks for our economy imposed by software patents.

About CEA-PME

CEA-PME is an ideologically neutral and non-party Confederation of national business organisations. It represents the interests of small and medium-sized enterprises of all branches and professional groups to the European institutions with the aim to give SME’s a voice commensurate to their importance for the European economy.

About PRO

The Polish Software Market Association was established by programmers and software publishers in 1992. PRO represents Polish Sotware Producers and Marketers in their efforts to create a better legal basis for software industry. PRO orders and publishes well-established surveys of the Polish Software Market and provides forums for cooperation between programmers, publishers and marketers of software.

About KODA

KODA.SI is the Slovene Software Developer’s Organisation that functions as a body of Chamber of Commerce of Slovenia. Its members are companies that have at least one development center in Slovenia. Established in 2004 it gained it’s reputation in discoussions about software patents, preparations of EURO adoption in Slovenia and in it’s cooperation in TP NESSI.