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C 310/52 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 9. 10.


Answer given by Mrs Bjerregaard on behalf of the Commission

(30 March 1998)

When the economic and environmental implications of the use of these instruments has been assessed, the
Commission will draw its policy conclusions. It is therefore too early to know whether the assessment will show
a need for more explicit criteria or not.

(98/C 310/65) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0351/98

by Amedeo Amadeo (NI) to the Commission
(17 February 1998)

Subject: SMEs and RTD (research and technological development)

‘The impact on SMEs of the steady, widespread reduction in funds allocated to research and technological
development in the EU (at Community and national level)’ has been considered in document CES 986/97.

Given that competition is growing keener and strategies are being internationalized as the economy becomes
increasingly more globalized, SMEs are obliged to innovate. Consequently, in addition to their other needs, they
have to have access to new technologies or develop the technologies they require.
1. Will the Commission devise a new approach distinguishing between small enterprises with a high
technological capacity or ’vanguard’ enterprises with untapped applied research potential and the broad
mass of enterprises that merely use the final products of RTD?
2. When drawing up Community programmes, will it give priority to the needs of small enterprises with a high
technological capacity and pursue a similar policy in connection with the Structural Funds in order to
encourage economic and social cohesion?

Answer given by Mr Papoutsis on behalf of the Commission

(3 April 1998)

The Commission is aware of the heterogeneity of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in terms of
research and technological development (RTD) needs and capabilities and of specific problems facing new
technology-based firms and small innovative firms.

The Commission agrees that high-growth firms deserve special attention owing to their important role in
facilitating growth-enhancing structural changes in product markets through the creation of niches and in
creating opportunities for labour skills and mobility. However, obstacles limit the ability of individuals to start
and develop innovative new business, including administrative complexity, inadequate access to finance and
lack of human resources and managerial competences.

In the third multiannual programme in favour of SMEs, specific means of support for this category of SMEs are
undertaken. An important example is the seed capital pilot scheme (creation of 23 investment funds). It aims to
help channel private capital towards the high-risk phase of seed finance or of rapid growth. Most of the effort
required is at national or regional level. However, a set of actions is being developed at Community level, in
particular as part of the implementation of the first action plan for innovation and the third multinannual
programme in favour of SMEs (Council Decision 97/15/EC) (1).

For instance, within the action plan for innovation, the Commission has acknowledged the need to support the
creation of high-tech and high-growth companies. A round table held in Paris (9 December 1997) on ‘innovation,
the creation of businesses and jobs’ launched a consultation process on helping the creation and growth of
technology-based firms. It has involved high-tech company managers, financiers, policy-makers, university
research centre managers, as well as Member States and Community officials. Working groups have been
9. 10. 98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 310/53

subsequently constituted to look at specific aspects of the creation and growth of high-tech firms, in order to
identify critical issues and good practice and define possible action, in particular at Community level. The result
of this exercise will be discussed at a European high-tech entrepreneurs forum in Vienna in November 1998.

Furthermore, within the innovation programme (third activity of the fourth framework programme − Parliament
and Council Decision No 1110/94/E (2)), the Commission has launched, in collaboration with the European
Investment Fund, the I-TEA pilot project, which aims to attract venture capital towards the initial phases of
innovative high-tech projects. I-TEA helps the managers of venture capital funds to acquire a lasting ability to
assess and manage this kind of project.

These efforts will be pursued within the fifth framework programme, notably through the implementation of the
horizontal programme ‘Innovation and Participation of SMEs’.

Furthermore, in the Commission proposal concerning the 5th framework programme for research, technical
development and demonstration activities (1998-2000) (3), special attention is given to SMEs. In this context, a
specific RAT programme on ‘Innovation and the participation of SMEs’ is foreseen. Besides high-tech
companies, special attention will be given to SMEs without adequate research capacities. Moreover, the
Commission intends to attach major importance to high-tech SMEs in its forthcoming proposals for Regulations
on the structural funds.

(1) OJ L 6, 10.1.1997.
(2) OJ L 126, 18.5.1994.
(3) COM(98) 8 final.

(98/C 310/66) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0360/98

by Mihail Papayannakis (GUE/NGL) to the Commission
(24 February 1998)

Subject: Safety and health at work of workers with a fixed duration employment relationship

Under Council Directive 91/383/EEC (1) concerning the ‘safety and health at work of workers with a
fixed-duration employment relationship or a temporary employment relationship, Member States are required to
bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this directive by
31 December 1992 at the latest.

Can the Commission say if and when the relevant Greek authorities have complied with Directive 91/383/EEC
and if they have not complied with it whether it intends to assume its responsibilities with a view to achieving
results required by the above Directive?

(1) OJ L 206, 29.7.1991, p. 19.

Answer given by Mr Flynn on behalf of the Commission

(2 April 1998)

The national measures transposing Directive 91/383/EC supplementing the measures to encourage improve-
ments in the safety and health at work of workers with a fixed-duration employment relationship or a temporary
employment relationship (1) were communicated to the Commission by the Greek authorities on 29 March 1996,
18 June 1996 and 14 January 1997.

In compliance with Article 10(4) of Directive 91/383/EC the Commission is currently preparing the report on the
implementation of this Directive, taking into account the national transposition measures and the report which
the Member States must forward to the Commission every five years on the practical implementation of this
Directive, setting out the points of view of workers and employers.

(1) OJ L 206, 29.7.1991.