The panel discussion was held as a part of the SME assembly- the most significant event for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe. The conference takes place once a year during the European SME Week.

Prof. Dr Arnis Sauka discussed how small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) need to be supported on their way to a more sustainable economy.

European Commission has established a permanent panel of academic experts, under the name “SME Sustainable Enterprise Panel”, to help to progress a conversation about the strategic policy and business response needed in order to keep businesses alive and create a sustainable enterprise ecosystem. The panel consists of some of the leading EU scholars in SME and entrepreneurship research. The panel met for the first time during the annual European Commission SME Assembly in 2020 for a roundtable discussion entitled “The impact of COVID-19: Challenges and Opportunities for SMEs, Society and Policy in Europe” and intends to meet annually.

According to Sauka, there are many important aspects that are crucial for the sustainable enterprise ecosystem and economies in general, especially, what comes to the development of human capital and the green deal. "Even though we know from previous research that many SMEs do not have the intention to grow big, it is also rather difficult to compete on the global scale with cheap labor and low prices. Especially for small countries such as Latvia, but also for the EU vs other regions of the World. Without the development of human capital it is not easy to achieve what we call productivity and value-added,” stressed Sauka.

Professor Sauka also talked about the methodology which has been developed to measure the size of the shadow economies in the Baltic countries and that the shadow economy is a big challenge for the sustainable growth of SMEs. Also, the lack of efficiency in government services, for example, inconsistency and speed of decision making, postponing vs solving problems for SMEs. "All this is clearly linked with the development of a sustainable enterprise ecosystem,” concluded Sauka.