8. Belgium

8.1. SMEs in the national economy

Table ‎8.1. Distribution of firms in Belgium, 2015
(By firm size, percentage of all firms)

Firm size (employees)

Number

%

All firms

560 659

100

SMEs (1-249)

559 842

99.85

Micro (1-9)

528 524

94.27

Small (10-49)

27 294

4.87

Medium (50-249)

4 024

0.72

Large (250+)

817

0.14

Note: Data include financial enterprises with the exception of holding companies (ISIC Rev.4 sector 642).

Source: (OECD, 2017[1]).

8.2. National policy framework to support SMEs in public procurement

The national objective on sustainable development in Belgium identifies public procurement as one of the policy areas to support SMEs. To that end, a guide has been developed as part of overall public procurement policy. The guide aims at helping contracting authorities take into account criteria for sustainable development to the extent possible. One of its principal goals is “Improving the quality of economic growth, the competitiveness of companies and the conditions for competition through the creation of a level playing field that allows enough companies, including SMEs, to participate in public procurement”.

8.3. Implementation mechanisms

Guidelines are created under the authority of a working group comprising representatives of different institutions of different regions that are concerned with implementation.

Public procurement for innovation is one of the major policy areas largely directed at SMEs, and from which SMEs greatly benefit in Belgium. In order to further encourage innovation for contracts below the publishing threshold, the working group is analysing possibilities for attracting very small firms and start-ups more easily. The initial targets are procurements in the IT sector below the national publication threshold and for which an innovative solution is needed.

Use of e-procurement solutions is encouraged as well, in order to promote SME participation. The federal service administering the e-procurement platform provides information sessions and helpdesk service free of charge, and has organised “road trips” in co-operation with professional federations in order to promote the facility. The service also accredits training institutions that can offer companies training in e-procurement.

8.4. Monitoring performance

The effectiveness of support to SMEs through public procurement is not monitored at the central level. Currently, there is no central contract registration or management system that keeps track of all awarded contracts. Nor is there mandatory notice of contracts awarded below the European threshold, or records of the link between the number of enterprise tenders and their SME status.

Reference

[1] OECD (2017), Financing SMEs and Entrepreneurs 2017: An OECD Scoreboard, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/fin_sme_ent-2017-en.

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