The EU Energy Market: What Opportunities for SMEs?
Wednesday, August 10th, 2016
The Single Market is a fundamental pillar of the EU which allows European companies to sell across the EU and benefits consumers by creating more competition. One key area where the Single Market delivers the greatest benefits is energy. Even if it is one of those sectors where full integration among Member States has not happened yet, in the last decade European energy legislations have focused on the process of aligning standards and opening the market. As shown by the latest European Commission’s annual progress report on the internal energy market for electricity and gas, consumers have gained more choice when it comes to selecting energy providers, national markets are more open and the rate of renewable energy sources in the market has gone up.
Nonetheless, the process is not complete. More infrastructures are needed and innovation must move forward to guarantee better services in a competitive environment. SMEs have benefited from the integration of the Single Market but energy efficiency remains a major concern for them. Small and medium sized businesses in the energy sector have also benefited as providers. They work at different levels of the energy value chain and have the potential to deliver significant technological innovations and new models of business efficiency. Nonetheless they also face some of the bigger obstacles, as they are in market which requires significant capitals and it can be subject to volatility in both prices and provisions.
The EU acknowledges the importance of SMEs in this sector and has developed relevant funding and support schemes. They range from project funding to helping SMEs to access capital more easily to supporting regions who are developing efficient energy networks and create business opportunities for companies. SMEs have access to this opportunities but they can also use other tools provided by the EU to strengthen their position in the energy market. For example, they can build international networks to get new business partners. One way to build such network is to join the MobiliseSME mobility scheme for employees who can then act as a bridge to form new business alliances.