SMALL firms are calling on candidates in the European Elections on June 4 to think small first and to remember that small businesses have a vital role to play in reversing economic downturn and tackling climate change. Launching its European elections m

SMALL firms are calling on candidates in the European Elections on June 4 to "think small first" and to remember that small businesses have a vital role to play in reversing economic downturn and tackling climate change.

Launching its European elections manifesto, the Federation of Small Businesses urged candidates to take speedy action to show how they would help small businesses survive, generate employment and pull the economy out of the recession.

The FSB welcomes the adoption of the Small Business Act by the European Commission, but wants to see practical measures put in place to tackle the recession and climate change, including a moratorium on new employment and business legislation during the recession; and increased access to finance, ensuring the proposed £4 billion EU rescue package reaches small businesses.

The federation says it is only the high street banks that have got funds from the European Investment Bank, so the FSB is calling on all candidates to put pressure on their regional development agencies - in this case EEDA - to apply for funds from the EIB to help struggling small businesses.

It is also seeking tax-free retention of profits for investment, innovation and expansion to improve the balance sheets of small firms and their job creation potential, and for a raft of new incentives and tax breaks to be introduced to promote the growth of the green economy.

FSB Huntingdonshire chairman Malcolm Lyons said: "Since the last European elections, the UK economy has entered a deep recession. While the Small Business Act has been adopted by the EU, small businesses have faced huge difficulties during the downturn, including late payments from big firms and an increase in costs, coupled with a decrease in trade and a sharp decline in access to credit.

"Small businesses make up 99.8 per cent of all European business, they represent the sector to help pull us out of the downturn and rebuild the country.

"What we really need to see now is MEP candidates championing small businesses in their campaigns and in their future positions in the European Parliament when they are elected.