Whatever the outcome of the tortuous Brexit negotiations, there is one subject on which all Europeans – whether they are citizens of the European Union or not – can agree on. I am referring of course to all the start-ups, small and medium sized businesses across the continent. It is these 23 million small businesses that everyone agrees must be helped to develop and thrive if the region is to prosper.
What’s interesting is that almost without exception when industrialists or politicians talk about these sectors, they refer to them as the “backbone” of their country. In the UK, it is the 5.6m SMEs which are the backbone. German business leaders call their 3.5m SMEs, including their Mittelstand companies, the Rückgrat, the French have the more lyrical description – le colonne vertigral – and the Italians call them the spina dorsale. And the Polish? Well, they are the kręgosłupit.