Speech by the President of the GSEVEY Mr G. Kavvathas at the public hearing of the European Economic and Social Committee

The President of GSEVEE, Mr. G. Kavathas, attended and spoke at the public hearing held by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on the role of family and traditional businesses in regional development.

The President of GSEVEE stressed that “Europe is gradually recognizing that the role of small and medium-sized enterprises is more crucial than originally estimated, extends to various policy areas and that the contribution to added value is a crucial dimension that should not be overlooked . At the same time, we see a shift in public debate from the unambiguous commitment to so-called new-type enterprises, start-ups and new technologies, the need to strengthen the national backbone of entrepreneurship, which is largely made up of family businesses or businesses with tradition And history in what they offer as a product or service. However, this shift in perception has not yet been translated into a political initiative and action to enhance the capabilities of family businesses. The social partners have a duty to highlight the forms of support for family businesses on the basis of which national and European policies should be designed. In particular, at regional level, the role of small family businesses is becoming more important and vital in terms of local development and the detention of desertification. ”

“In the European Union (EU), 60-90% of enterprises (country-by-country) are family-run and, according to the latest statistics, family businesses in the EU contribute to 2/3 of GDP and jobs. Here, we should emphasize that with the term family business we do not define a limited-to-the-horizon business, employment and networking business: these are enterprises that may be from Societe Anonyme, up to personal, export-oriented or supra-local individual enterprises that have managed to Maintain their family character in decision making and the administrative pyramid, and usually employ and assisting members. They may also be enterprises with a purely local character and limited scope of action. This heterogeneity therefore shapes the need to leverage different tools to support entrepreneurship. For other businesses, a higher degree of penetration into value chains is required, for the smallest it is necessary to have an adequate information network and wider flexibility in the constitution and operation side (less bureaucracy and compliance costs).

In Greece, which continues to walk on the thorny path of the crisis, but also in its ineffective management, the problems faced by family businesses are even stronger:

– It is institutional, (incomplete information on the transfer process, the issuance of a new operating license, etc.), in the sense that there is no code of action that allows the entrepreneur to step-by-step approach and support. Despite the positive steps in the fight against bureaucracy and simplification of procedures, the problem of state-entrepreneur-consumer communication remains. GSEVEE considers that there is scope for intervention on the part of tertiary organizations in this area.

– Taxation (high transfer tax, “informal” transfer, etc.) and financial (lack of economic and tax incentives, staff adaptation, shrinking industry or activity, etc.)

– Of course, it is also socially-working, (capabilities and skills of the successor, training of the successor, etc.), in the sense of the inability of enterprises to recognize primarily the personnel needs and, secondarily, to attract suitable candidates. Therefore, family businesses need human resources counseling and assessment infrastructure. Education and training programs have failed to prepare ground for the past few years.

As mentioned above, an important aspect of a family business is the transfer from generation to generation and successful succession. Transfer incentives in our country are limited and the anti-development framework (there are no tax breaks, high debts make it unattractive or impossible to transfer, etc.).

The criticality of successful succession in a family business is confirmed and evidenced by recent EU figures that 1/3 of EU entrepreneurs, especially those managing family businesses, would have retired by 2016 According to the same EU estimates, this could have an impact on up to 690,000 small and medium-sized enterprises and 2.8 million jobs each year.

Additionally, official data show that only 30%, ie 3 out of 10 family businesses survive the transition to the second generation, while only 10%, ie 1 out of 10 family businesses manage to maintain the family business by moving to the third generation , While only 3%, that is, 3 out of 100 family businesses, end up in the fourth generation. ”

Finally, the President of GSEVEE stressed that “there is a point that is the crucial variable that determines the specific weight of the family business: is the contribution to employment, technological continuity, regional integration and, by extension, contribution to social cohesion and social harmony.”