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Brussels to send 'crats into the real world

The coup de grâce for a struggling SME?

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The European Commission would like its bureaucrats to have a better understanding of the real world, so it plans to send them them out on a terrifying expedition into the land of the SME.

With a turn of speed typical of the Commission, over the next three years some 350 senior EC officials, up to and including Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, will spend a week working with the companies they draft legislation for.

The idea is that the 'crats will get a better understanding of the challenges facing a small business, and the small businesses will get "highly motivated trainees to assist in their day-to-day work", according to Verheugen, as well as having someone on hand to explain the intricacies of EU policy making.

Tech outfits might want to consider this an opportunity to bend a bureaucrat's ear about the dangers of software patenting. Or, you might just need a nice office ornament, that takes long lunches and doesn't really do much without arguing with itself for three years first.

The division of the EC responsible, DG Enterprise, will work with UNICE (Union of Industrial and Employers' Confederations of Europe), UEAPME (European Association of Craft, Small and Medium Seized Enterprises) and EUROCHAMBRES (Association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry) to draw up the lists of candidate host companies.

To qualify, a company must have fewer than 250 staff, and be in one of the 25 EC countries. There is no minimum size.

Companies interested in observing a bureaucrat outside its natural habitat should point their browsers here to find out how to apply. ®

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