• Commissioner confirmation hearings highlight SME priorities
  • International Chamber of Commerce says international tax rules for e-commerce should be revised
  • Cyber risks are a growing challenge for SMEs

Commissioner-designates answer MEPs’ questions on SMEs

The future Commissioners in the upcoming European Commission led by Ursula von der Leyen have replied to questions about their SME priorities to MEPs.

In reply, the executive vice president (VP) designate for Economy, Valdis Dombrovskis, underlined that access to finance is still insufficient for SMEs and acknowledged the difficulties SMEs face to become largescale innovators. He wants to work on the budget instruments to facilitate the SMEs’ environment.

Margrethe Vestager, the future VP for digitalisation and co-lead on the next Commission’s SME Strategy declared that the next Commission will have to examine the role of public procurement in supporting the growth of SMEs. Ensuring that SMEs stop facing too heavy regulatory and administrative burdens is also a priority.

Sylvie Goulard, the Commissioner designate for the Single Market, confirmed her commitment to tackling the multi-faceted challenges SMEs face and make it easier for them to do business across borders.

She wants to ensure that the SME test receives a right application and will make a priority to address the bureaucracy and the remaining barriers in the single market. The Digital Europe Programme should provide support to SMEs in their transition to a more sustainable, digitalised economy, Goulard underlines. The review of the SME definition that occurred during this mandate will also receive her full attention and she will assess any need for changes.

As defense will also be part of her portfolio, she aims at encouraging the participation of SMEs in the European Defense Fund by creating incentives for them to take part in the project. Read more

European Commission

European Commission invests in cybersecurity for SMEs

As part of Horizon 2020, the cybersecurity firm Odix has received a €2 milion grant from the EU to bring its particular technology to a wider audience and serve SMEs.

With a file-based attack protection, Odix’s technology offers a good defense against cyberattacks. With this grant, SMEs should have access to all the functionalities through affordable subscriptions. Read more.

European Commission supports SMEs through digitalisation

The Commission has replied to a question asked by MEP Roberta Metsola (EPP/ Malta) with regard to developing apps for SMEs to sell their products on.

In its reply, the Commission highlights that the digitalisation plan of European industry includes measures to support SMEs across all sectors and to boost investment through strategic partnerships and networks.

As an example, the Commission recalls the Start-up and Scale-up initiative that comes with a range of actions creating a more coherent framework that is conducive to the growth of start-ups in Europe. Read more.

SMEs suffer to complex indirect tax regimes to develop their E-commerce

On 20 September, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) released a warning on complex tax regimes hampering SMEs growth.

To address the issue, ICC suggests to minimise discrimination between domestic and non-domestic businesses in registration requirements, and to ensure that registration and tax payment processes are simple and consistent.

Another recommendation is to establish appropriate de minimis thresholds, which would allow customs agencies to focus on safety and security.

The ICC also wants to allow suppliers to collect remit taxes away from the border. Last but not least, the fifth recommendation is to stop requiring a place of business or fiscal representative in the country of destination in order to supply goods. Read more.

France recommends SMEs to cope with new sophisticated threats

The French National Cybersecurity Agency identifies in its last report espionage as one of the greatest cyber risks. With 80% of the French workforce working in an SME, the security expert would like to expand the Cyber Malveillance programme, designed to support SMEs’ protection.

According to Guillaume Poupard, security expert, international cooperation is key in this area. Agreeing at international level on what is permitted and what is not in cyberspace is vital. Read more.

SMEs must prepare for all Brexit scenarios

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published guidelines for SMEs to prepare for a no-deal scenario. In such a case, the EU would require additional measures when personal data are transferred between the EU and the UK, and SMEs must be prepared.

ICO’s guidelines clarify steps that can be taken already now and others that should be taken when the UK leaves the EU. It gives entrepreneurs information on how to maintain data flows that are vital for business supply chains to function. Read more.

UK SMEs are too cyber vulnerable

The global insurance brokerage Gallagher has highlighted how costly cyber crimes are for SMEs. In a poll of 1.120 UK SMEs, 24% confirmed having been victims of cyberattacks in 2018.

17% of them spent more than £10,000 to combat cyberattacks, and 23% said they would survive less than a month if they were to suffer such an attack.

Gallagher urges UK SMEs to not only review their crisis preparedness, but also to assess their ability to survive. Read more.This 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.