EDA’s “Guidelines for facilitating SMEs’ access to the defence market”, approved in 2009 and revised in May 2015, provide recommendations to Member States on how to improve access by defence-related SMEs to information, defence procurement, supply chains and finance as well as to promote innovation in, and the competitiveness of SMEs.
A network of the Member States SME point of contacts has been established in order to promote and monitor the use and implementation of the guidelines and to discuss further policies and measures on SMEs.
In addition, an EDA SME Action Plan, approved by the EDA Steering Board in March 2013, address measures in support of defence-related SMEs. The main endorsed measures are:
- Increasing interaction with the European Commission's work on SMEs and clusters, with a focus on specific action to support defence-related SMEs and making best use of existing tools;
- Improving information sharing about business opportunities through the creation of an EDA forum/portal for defence-related SMEs;
- Supporting innovation through enhancing SME access to defence related research and technology by developing bridges between university research and SMEs;
- Enhancing defence SME market conditions through developing further the existent SME guidelines and MS/NDIA best practice;
- Facilitating efficient use of subcontracting provisions in the recent Defence and Security Procurement Directive, through sharing of best practice.
To implement the SME Action Plan, the Agency has launched the following initiatives:
- In June 2013 the Agency launched a new portal, Defence Procurement Gateway on its website dedicated to defence-related business opportunities and information. Through this single point SMEs can access defence procurement-related information and business opportunities both at the EU and national level;
- EDA organised and supported targeted workshops on European defence opportunities for SMEs;
- In order to promote greater innovation across the defence industry in Europe with a special focus on SMEs, EDA initiated activities to facilitate access to European Investment and Structural Funds (ESIF) for dual-use technology projects;
- As a part of the new market and industry approach, the EDA Supply Chain Action Plan (complementary to the work on SMEs) was approved by the EDA Steering Board in May 2014.
In the broader context of support to defence industry EDA has developed initiatives that are also impacting SMEs such as REACH and Security of Supply.
The EDA Steering Board endorsed on 18 May 2015 the updated “Guidelines for facilitating SMEs’ access to the defence market”. Other current key priorities are:
- Publishing a handbook for defence-related SMEs;
- Creation of a SME Corner;
- Establishment of an EDA SME special adviser;
- Enhancing the EDA’s role in facilitating the defence-related SMEs’ access to EU tools (e.g. ESIF, COSME, Enterprise Europe Network).
The implementation of the SME Action Plan is rolling, in close interaction with Member States, European Commission and industry. Based on the Council conclusions on CSDP, as adopted on 18 May 2015, the Council welcomed the actions deriving from the EDA SME Action Plan.