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Document 52014DC0440

SMEs turning environmental challenges into business

SMEs turning environmental challenges into business

The Green Action Plan for SMEs sets out ways to support green business* developments in Europe to create a sustainable economy and improve the competitiveness of small companies.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Green Action Plan for SMEs Enabling SMEs to turn environmental challenges into business opportunities (COM(2014) 440 final of 2.7.2014)



If SMEs use their resources more efficiently, they can reduce costs and achieve productivity gains. However, small companies are often unable to find the advice and support they need. The Green Action Plan for SMEs presents ways they can be helped to reach their goal.


The Commission identifies several measures. They include:

  • practical information and advice. This can come from the European Resource Efficiency Excellence Centre (to be established in 2015); pan-European Eurobarometer surveys assessing resource efficiency trends; awareness raising activities through the Enterprise Europe Network; and green business opportunities from the EU’s structural and investment funds,
  • business partnering. The Enterprise Europe Network’s database has over 23,000 profiles to match supply and demand among SMEs,
  • access to finance. The Commission is updating its SME websites to include practical financial information; the European Investment Bank can provide finance through intermediaries, as can the Private Finance for Energy Efficiency and the EU’s regional and maritime funds,
  • eco-innovation. The SME Instrument under Horizon 2020 offers 3 phases of support with optional coaching to SMEs to help them put forward their most eco-innovative ideas and their initiatives for a circular economy; backing is also available from the EU’s regional, agricultural and fisheries funds,
  • good practices. Public bodies and public-private partnerships supporting the development of green markets will be recognised in the European Enterprise Promotion Awards,
  • access to markets. Standardisation bodies will be encouraged to take the concept of a circular economy into account when setting their multinational norms and green entrepreneurs will be supported in accessing international markets through European Cluster Strategic Partnerships and low-carbon actions in middle-income countries.


Some three-quarters of SMEs in the EU have seen their material costs increase over the past 5 years. At least 93 % are trying to be more resource-efficient, but fewer than half (42 %) have seen production costs fall. Hence, the need for clear, practical guidance.


* Green business: one that produces innovative goods or offers innovative services that result in reduced environmental impacts and the use of fewer resources.

last update 28.08.2015