Strengthening SMEs, the backbone of the Spanish productive fabric, is one of the priority objectives of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan sent by the Government to Brussels. The document reveals that the Executive has reserved 5,000 million euros of European aid to digitize, internationalize and increase the size of small and medium-sized Spanish companies that, among other things, may use European funds to hire technology experts to update their models of business.
“The weight of SMEs is greater in Spain than in the EU as a whole, with their contribution to employment and business gross added value being five percentage points above the respective European averages”, justifies the Government in the Plan sent to the European Commission, in which it details that they are also smaller than the community average. Specifically, the average Spanish company has 4.4 employees, compared to 5.9 in the EU, or 11.8 in Germany. At the end of 2020 there were 2,884,099 companies in Spain, of which only 0.16% are considered large companies and only 0.99% have more than 50 employees, while 99.84% of firms are SMEs , 93.88% have less than 10 employees and more than half do not have employees. A universe of micro-enterprises, therefore, that suffer congenital problems of access to financing; capacity for growth and innovation; taking advantage of economies of scale; and access to the foreign market, indicates the Government. To improve their situation, the Executive has designed an emergency plan endowed with 4,918 million of which 4,894 are on account of European subsidies.
Of the total, 927 million will be used this year, 2,167.9 in 2022 and the remaining 1,822.8 in 2023. 71.7% of the resources will be allocated to digitization and improvement of innovation in SMEs; another 10.2% to boost its growth; 7.5% to encourage entrepreneurship; 6.5% to support trade; and 4.1% to facilitate its internationalization.
The digitization plan, the most ambitious, includes the so-called “Change Agents Program”, endowed with 300 million euros with which “small and medium-sized companies will be subsidized the costs of incorporating a professional in digital transformation” during a period of one year and for an amount of up to 20,000 euros per company, contract and year, as detailed to the European Commission, “The program aims to support at least 15,000 small and medium-sized companies”, between 10 and 249 employees, which will translate into as many contracts for digital professionals who help these SMEs to transform their business models.
Despite the relevant impact on employment of this measure, the bulk of the budget, 3,028 million, will be allocated to the “Digital Tookit Program”, which will subsidize basic digital services to SMEs with up to 49 employees, including “presence on the Internet, electronic sales, office in the cloud, digital workstation, digitization of basic processes, customer management, digital marketing, cybersecurity ”, among other items.
In parallel with the package of measures to strengthen SMEs, the Government commits Brussels to a calendar of legislative reforms that aim to facilitate the activity of all companies from their creation to their dissolution. It will begin with this last point, presenting a bill this same quarter that it aspires to see approved in the last of the year, when the extension of the suspension of the procedures driven by the pandemic ends. The text will transpose the pending European directive on the matter, will extend the pre-bankruptcy period from four to 12 months, and will develop second-chance procedures for natural persons, allowing the exoneration of debt without prior settlement.
At the end of 2021, and aspiring to see it approved a year later, the Executive will promote a law of creation and business growth that allows companies to be established for a single euro, compared to the 3,000 capital currently required, online and in 10 days, at At the same time, their access to financing sources is facilitated and obstacles to their growth are eliminated. Finally, it is committed to promoting a law to promote startups before the end of 2023.
The 15,000 jobs for digitization experts that SMEs will be able to create thanks to the European aid on the way are just the spearhead of the job creation engine that the Government hopes to launch with the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan. The objective committed to Brussels is the creation of at least 800,000 jobs by 2023, the equivalent of 12 jobs for every million public euros. It should be remembered, in any case, that before the Covid the country created half a million annually without the relevant European aid on the way. The bulk of the jobs, from 250,000 to 350,000, rely on the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC), although it is also expected to make 5,254 temporary employees of the administration permanent, for example. In addition, almost 200,000 other jobs rely on the housing rehabilitation program.