Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE The Role of SMEs Competitiveness in the European Union

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT European Studies

DESCRIPTION The unit provides an overview of the European economy, the major economies and key structural challenges, particularly focusing on competitiveness issues. The use of supply-side polices to address competitiveness issues is highlighted. The study-unit is divided into two sections.

First, it provides a review of the industrial and competitiveness policy of the EU. The development of this policy from the Lisbon Strategy to Europe 2020 is covered. Key results achieved to date are reviewed. The targets and tools of the Europe 2020 strategy are described, as well as its governance and the institutions involved. Reference is made to the implementation of the Lisbon Strategy and the Europe 2020 strategy in Malta.

Second, it will analyze developments in EU policy towards SMEs. Hence, it will give an overview in a chronological order of events/EU initiatives in favour of SMEs by mapping out the path from the European Charter for Small Enterprises to the Small Business Act for Europe. The role that SMEs have on the EU's agenda, particularly to the EU's 2020 strategy, will be addressed throughout.

Study-unit Aims:

The unit aims to make students appreciate the competitiveness challenges faced by the EU economy and its prime engines for EU growth, i.e. SMEs. The unit aims to explore the strategies adopted by the EU to improve the competitiveness of the European economy and its SMEs, to assess their effectiveness and to review specific strategies that the EU has in place for SMEs.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- describe the main features of the European economy;
- list the main competitiveness issues faced by the European economy and EU SMEs;
- describe the main elements of the Lisbon Strategy and the Europe 2020 strategy;
- evaluate the achievements of the Lisbon Strategy and identify any weaknesses;
- outline EU strategies for SMEs and assess whether such strategies are effective and whether EU SMEs have benefited from these actions at EU and national level;
- have an improved knowledge of the characteristics of the European economy and the EU's interests in aiding SMEs flourish as a means to boost its competitiveness worldwide;
- appreciate better the aims of the Lisbon Strategy and the Europe 2020 strategy and their application to EU SME policy.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- apply basic economic concepts to the European economy;
- apply basic economic concepts to EU SME policy.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:
(availability at the Library or otherwise is indicated against each entry)

El-Agraa, Ali (2007) 'The European Union Economics and Policies', Cambridge University Press, 8th Edition (available at the Library)

Pelkmans, Jacques (2006) ' European Integration Methods and Economic Analysis', Pearson Education Limited, 3rd Edition (2001 edition available at the Library)

Artis, Mike & Nixson, Frederick (2007), 'The Economics of the European Union', Oxford University Press, 4th Edition (2001 edition available at the Library)

Official Journal of the European Communities; Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003 concerning the definition of small and medium sized enterprises (2003/361/EC), (L124 of 20.05.2003) (available at EDRC library and on europa website)

Additional reading material from

European Commission website
OECD publications;
Publications by the International Monetary Fund
Publications by the European Commission's DG for Industry and Entrepreneurship.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Examination (2 Hours) SEM2 Yes 100%


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The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2021/2. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.