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SME Policy Index: Western Balkans and Turkey 2016

Assessing the Implementation of the Small Business Act for Europe

image of SME Policy Index: Western Balkans and Turkey 2016

The SME Policy Index is a benchmarking tool designed for emerging economies to assess SME policy frameworks and monitor progress in policy implementation over time. The Index has been developed by the OECD in partnership with the European Commission (EC), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and the European Training Foundation (ETF) in 2006 for the Western Balkans. The South East European Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (SEECEL) joined as an additional partner in 2014. The SME Policy Index has since 2006 been applied in four regions and nine assessment rounds overall.

The SME Policy Index: Western Balkans and Turkey 2016 presents the results of the fourth assessment of the Small Business Act for Europe in the Western Balkans and, since 2012, Turkey. The assessment framework is structured around the ten principles of the Small Business Act for Europe (SBA). It provides a wide-range of pro-enterprise measures to guide the design and implementation of SME policies based on good practices promoted by the EU and the OECD.

The Index identifies strengths and weaknesses in policy design, implementation and monitoring. It allows for comparison across countries and measures convergence towards good practices and relevant policy standards. It aims to support governments in setting targets for SME policy development and to identify strategic priorities to further improve the business environment. It also helps to engage governments in policy dialogue and exchange good practices within the region and with OECD and EU members.

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Support services for SMEs and start-ups, and public procurement (Dimensions 5a and 5b) in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Adapt public policy tools to SME needs (Small Business Act Principle 5)

The idiosyncrasies of SMEs mean they need specific support from public policy tools and government interventions to overcome market imperfections which prevent them from accessing particular markets and developing their skills. Dimension 5 is divided into two parts: Dimension 5a assesses government efforts to encourage the development of business support services for SMEs as an instrument to improve SME competitiveness, while Dimension 5B assesses efforts to adapt public procurement frameworks to make it easier for SMEs to participate on an equal footing, giving them access to the significant opportunities offered by public contracts. Overall, the economies of the Western Balkans and Turkey have become marginally more proactive in both of these areas. A combination of public and donor-funded programmes offer support services for SMEs and start-ups across the region. Nonetheless, more efforts are required to address the needs of specific SME segments, such as start-ups, growth-oriented medium-sized firms or exporters. Services do not gather sufficient feedback from SMEs, and more could be done to develop comprehensive and stringent monitoring and evaluation frameworks. In public procurement, governments have made progress in improving the legislative framework and have started to develop e-procurement systems, making it easier for SMEs to participate in public tenders. However, price is still commonly used as the contract criterion to the detriment of quality considerations. Policy makers should now concentrate on ensuring qualification criteria and financial requirements are proportionate for SMEs and take the next steps towards developing e-procurement so as to take full advantage of the efficiency benefits it offers.

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