SME Update

October 2020

European Parliament approves European crowdfunding framework on 5 October

The new rules create a single set of rules on crowdfunding services for the EU. This should help crowdfunding services to function smoothly in the internal market and foster cross-border business funding.

The uniform set of criteria will apply to all European Crowdfunding Service Providers (ECSP) up to offers of EUR 5 000 000 (from EUR 1 000 000 proposed by the Commission), calculated over a period of 12 months per project owner.

Investors would be provided a key investment information sheet (KIIS) drawn up by the project owner for each crowdfunding offer or at platform level. Crowdfunding service providers would need to give clients clear information about the financial risks and charges they may incur, including insolvency risks and project selection criteria.

A prospective ECSP would need to request authorisation from the national competent authority (NCA) of the member state in which they are established. On its 5 October vote, the Parliament raised no objections to the Council’s position, meaning that the proposal can become EU law.

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European Commission

Commission publishes Explanatory Notes on the new VAT e-commerce rules

The Notes contain extensive explanations and clarifications on these new rules including practical examples on how to apply the rules if you are a supplier or an electronic interface (e.g. marketplace, platform) involved in e-commerce transactions. These explanatory notes, published on 20 September, are meant to help online businesses and in particular SMEs to understand their VAT obligations arising from cross-border supplies to consumers in the EU. Read more

Commission prolongs COVID state aid temporary support framework

The European Commission’s 13 October decision not only prolongs but also extends the scope of the State aid Temporary Framework adopted on 19 March 2020. It gives EU Member States flexibility to support their companies during COVID.

All sections of the Temporary Framework are prolonged for six months until 30 June 2021, and the section to enable recapitalisation support is prolonged for three months until 30 September 2021.

The amendment also introduces a new measure to enable EU Member States to support companies facing a decline in turnover during the eligible period of at least 30% compared to the same period of 2019 due to COVID. The support will contribute to a part of the beneficiaries’ fixed costs that are not covered by their revenues, up to a maximum amount of EUR 3 million per undertaking. Read more

Commission launches new portal to help SMEs that want to trade outside of the EU

The new Access2Markets portal, launched on 13 October, aims to help European SMEs that would like to do business outside of the EU.

The portal entails information about the key elements content of EU’s free trade agreements with third countries, including lists of products eligible for reduced tariffs. In addition, SMEs can find in the portal details on taxes, rules of origin, technical product requirements, customs procedures and trade flow statistics related to specific products they want to import or export. Read more


Council reflects how to make Commission’s SME test more effective

The Council’s three consecutive Presidency holders (Germany, Portugal and Slovenia) have issued a joint document reflecting on how the European Commission’s SME test could be improved. With the SME test, the Commission analyses the possible effects of EU legislative proposals on SMEs.

The Council trio have identified the following areas for possible improvements:

  • The application of the SME test should be based on joint pre-screening of upcoming proposals by the Commission together with SME associations
  • The SME test could be improved by strengthening the consultation process, increasing the quantification of impacts and by taking different SME classes (micro, small, medium) better into account
  • Stricter oversight by the Regulatory Scrutiny Board should be ensured

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European Commission gives an outline of how it is supporting SME digitalisation

  • Question by MEP Maria Grapini (S&D/Romania)
  • Reply by Commissioner Breton

New SME United poll shows SME morale at an all-time low

According to the poll by SME United, European SMEs confidence is at the lowest score ever documented (54.6), showing a decrease of 18.8 points from the previous period (73.4). This strongly negative result is due to the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on European economy. It is even 0.5 points below the historic low of the financial crisis in 2009. Read more

European funding for boosting SME competitiveness being probed by EU Auditors

The European Court of Auditors (ECA) intends to examine whether EU funding for SMEs is helping to make them more competitive and future-proof, it announced on 14 October.

ECA will assess whether the European Commission’s support from the European regional development fund (ERDF) is ensuring lasting competitive gains for start-ups and scale-ups. In addition, they will check whether Member States funnel this funding to relevant recipients, address the most pertinent needs, and whether the projects funded are delivering results. The final report is expected in autumn 2021. Read more

EUIPO organises several webinars to help and inform SMEs

The European Union’s Intellectual Property Office’s (EUIPO) webinars, taking place in the next few weeks, aim to inform SMEs about various aspects of intellectual property (IP):

  • 10 November webinar on crowdfunding IP. Go to Calendar, click on Nov 10, link to live streaming will be available soon
  • Webinar on the relative merits of patents versus trade secrets

SME United publishes recommendations for improving EU Single Market for SMEs

SME United’s list of recommendations include, for example, the following:

  • Updating the Handbook on the implementation of the Services Directive
  • Providing easily accessible guidance on strategic and other aspects of public procurement
  • Reform recommendations for regulation of professional services
  • Simplification of legislation to eliminate all unnecessary burdens, duplications and gold plating, based on the ‘think small first principle’

Read moreThis curated content was brought to you by Johan Barros, Accountancy Europe policy manager since 2015. You can send him tips by email, follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.