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The Impact of the European Structural and Investment Funds on SMEs Performance:

An Effective Policy Strategy for Absorption Capacity

Claudia González Cobos

This article is based on the author’s recent research, which comprises an in-depth assessment of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) and their contribution to SMEs’ performance. Despite their relevance, the author argues that they have achieved a limited impact on SMEs’ performance, revealing their lack of capacity for reaching the majority of European SMEs. In an attempt to improve the attraction of potential beneficiaries, a clear redefinition and diversification of policy strategies is proposed. In clustering the Member States according to their capacity to increase the SMEs’ population and their capacity for innovative absorption, four main strategies are proposed to transfer the ambitions of EU-2020 goals into the current needs of SMEs. This research raises the question not about how these SMEs can become more globally competitive, but how to develop their internal capacity for innovation absorption. On the one hand, the author calls for an internal self-assessment of the organisation of SMEs, and on the other hand, for an evaluation of the policy instrument implementation to help SMEs in this transitional process. The proposed four-stage approach will lead to the internal preparation of the SME from growth consolidation to ‘innovative differentiation’.

Claudia González Cobos, postgraduate student of the Master in European Economic Integration and Business, Economics Department, College of Europe. For correspondence: claudia.gonzalezcobos@coleurope.euThe article is based on the author's thesis for the Degree of Master of Arts in European Economic Studies, with the Specialisation 'European Economic Integration and Business (EEIB)' at the College of Europe, supervised by Professor Andrés Rodríguez-Pose. The article was awarded with the Lexxion prize.


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