EU enlargement particularly useful to SMEs

After the EU enlargement in May 2004 one in two small and medium-sized entities in Germany gained easier access to bigger sales market and more cost-efficient production and import opportunities. Europe-wide this applies to just 38% of companies. This is the finding of a survey among 3000 small and medium-sized companies in twelve European countries which was commissioned by Grant Thornton International which is a financial auditor.

45% of the companies in Germany said that they had already relocated part of their business operations to the new EU member states which is a percentage as high as nowhere else in Europe. Furthermore, two thirds of companies questioned focus on outsourcing to the new members in Eastern Europe.

28 % of companies say that labour costs have decreased due to enlargement and 26% state that manpower supply has increased. About 25% of companies say so at a European level. In Ireland where economic growth is particularly strong even fifty percent of those questioned said that labour costs had fallen since May 2004 and 80% say that there is more manpower available.
However, enlargement has also shown the other side of the coin: 40% of European companies say that enlargement has lead stronger competition and in Germany even 55% of companies say so. Thus, the opinion of German entrepreneurs is divided with regard to continuing the enlargement process: 47% are in favour, 51% against it. At an EU-wide level 55% of the companies questioned are in favour of enlargement with most companies saying so in Poland (89%), 77% in Turkey and 75% in Spain. More sceptical are entrepreneurs in the Netherlands (35% in favour) and Sweden where no company wants enlargement to continue.

More detailed findings on the issue of EU enlargement as well as information on business prospects and M&A activities amoung European small and medium-sized entities are availabe in the »International Business Report Gesamtbericht 2007«. In addition this site also offers summaries for download. GERMAN