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The European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises or UEAPME is an umbrella group for associations of SMEs based in Brussels, Belgium. UEAPME represents the interests of European crafts, trades and SMEs at EU level. Its 67 member organisations from 34 European countries consist of national cross-sectorial SME federations, European branch federations and other associate members. Its members combined represent more than 12 million enterprises, which employ around 50 million people across Europe. UEAPME is a recognised European Social Partner.
UEAPME was founded in 1980. The first headquarters of the association were in Munich, Germany. After some years in Germany, the organisation moved its headquarters to Brussels, Belgium, where it was established in 1991 as an international not for profit association under Belgian law (AISBL). The acronym UEAPME was made official in this incorporation and stands for “Union Européenne de l’Artisanat et des Petites et Moyennes Enterprises”, i.e. the European Union of Crafts and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.
The aims of UEAPME as written in its statutes are as follows:
- Monitoring the EU policy and legislative process and keeping its members informed on all matters of European Union policy of relevance to crafts, trades and SMEs;
- Representing and promoting the interests, needs and opinions of its member organisations to the EU institutions and other international organisations;
- Supporting its members academically, technically and legally on all areas of EU policy;
- Supporting the idea of European integration and contributing to European co-operation.
In 1996, with the support of the European Commission, UEAPME was one of the founding members of the European Office of Crafts, Trades and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises for Standardisation, or NORMAPME in short. NORMAPME was created as an international non-profit association under Belgian law. The aims of NORMAPME are to improve the participation of SMEs in European standardisation, to increase the influence of small enterprises in standards making and to help them understand and implement standards.
As of 1998, UEAPME is a European Social Partner alongside BUSINESSEUROPE (previously UNICE), the European Centre of Enterprises with Public Participation and of Enterprises of General Economic Interest (CEEP) and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). In 1996, the first negotiations between UNICE, CEEP and ETUC led to the conclusion of a framework agreement on parental leave. UEAPME challenged the validity of the directive implementing the agreement before the European Court of First Instance, claiming a violation of its own right to negotiate. The complaint was dismissed in June 1998, but the court case created political momentum for the opening of discussions with UNICE, according to the principle of mutual recognition. In November of the same year, the two organisations reached an agreement, further to which UEAPME became a recognised participant in the European social dialogue.
UEAPME is run by a Secretariat based in Brussels consisting of 20 staff members working in thematic directorates. The Secretariat also includes an administrative section, a press office and a Study Unit. The current President is Ulrike Rabmer-Koller, from Austria, since January 2016.
UEAPME counts more than 80 member organisations spanning across all Member States of the EU and beyond, representing 12 million enterprises and nearly 55 million employees.
The full members of UEAPME are composed of representative national, cross-sectoral organisations representing craft activities and/or SME businesses in the different sectors of the economy within the European Union. (e.g. Food, Constructions - EBC, UNIEP - and Information and Communication Technologies - PIN-SME). Full members have the right to vote.
UEAPME has three types of associate members.
- Associate members from non-EU countries: this group is composed of national associations of craft industries and of SME businesses from European countries that are not members of the European Union.
- European sectoral organisations this category is composed of European and International organisations representing SMEs in a specific trade sector.
- Other associate members this category is made of all types of institutions and organisations, which are involved in craft and/or SME activities and support the SME family.
Associate members attend and speak at UEAPME meetings, but have no voting rights.
Main areas of activity
Some of the key EU legislative areas in which UEAPME is active include:
- Economic and fiscal policy (Lisbon strategy, macroeconomic policy, taxation)
- Education and vocational training (lifelong learning, recognition and transparency of qualifications)
- Employment and social affairs (European Social Dialogue, labour law, social protection, social inclusion)
- Enterprise policy (access to finance, standardisation, CSR, R&D, internationalisation of SMEs)
- Environmental policy (sustainable development, chemicals, waste policy, energy policy, climate change)
- Internal market and legal affairs (better regulation, services, consumer protection, IPR, company law, State aid, ADR, collective redress, small claims)
- Regional policy and structural funds
- Sectoral policies (construction, healthcare, foodstuffs, retail, tourism, transport)
- Official website
- UEAPME Twitter account
- UEAPME profile on the European Union Transparency Register
- "UEAPME statutes on the Belgian Ministry of Justice website (PDF)" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-09-02.
- "Union Européenne de l'Artisanat et des Petites et Moyennes Entreprises (UEAPME) v. Council of the European Union, Case T-135/96 (1998)". Eur-lex.europa.eu. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
- "Board of Directors". UEAPME. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
- "Committees, Working Groups and Task Forces". UEAPME. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
- "Full members". UEAPME. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
- "Associate members from non-EU countries". UEAPME. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
- "European sectoral organisations". UEAPME. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
- "Other associate and sponsoring members". UEAPME. Retrieved 2013-09-02.