• Accountancy Europe discusses SME priorities with the European Parliament
  • EU Member States help SMEs with digitalisation
  • Denmark introduces new auditing standards for SMEs

Accountancy Europe co-organises event at European Parliament on SME priorities

On 5 November, Accountancy Europe co-organised with SME United and the Member of European Parliament (MEP) Ondrej Kovarik (RE/ Czechia) a workshop to discuss SME priorities of the ECON Committee for the upcoming term. The workshop hosted key stakeholders, MEPs and the European Commission.

During the roundtable, the Commission emphasised the need for SMEs to have better access to finance, and underlined the importance of easily accessible and comparable information on SMEs. As part of its future Capital Markets Union (CMU) priorities, the Commission will continue its work to facilitate SME access to public markets. These efforts will include an EU IPO fund to assist SMEs deal with the costs of listing.

The Commission will also work on its so-called “one in, one out” rule, to mitigate the regulatory burdens for SMEs and build a new landscape on the basis of what already exists.

Some attendees emphasised the need for fairness and a level-playing field on tax between small and large companies. They also requested MEPs and the Commission to maintain discussions on CCTB and tax digitalisation.

Accountancy Europe’s Florin Toma called for a pan-European “big one stop shop (BOSS)” through which SMEs could register for regulatory and tax purposes with a standardised registration format. See more

European Commission

European Innovation Council Accelerator to invest in SMEs

A new EU pilot scheme will enable the European Technology and Innovation Council to make equity investments in SMEs. This is the first time a European Commission programme will act as an equity investor. It will also offer grants to tech companies with products ready to enter the market.

Spain already counts more than 228 requests, followed by 173 in Italy. The European Innovation Council will be officially launched at the end of Horizon 2020, in 2021. The Commission plans for a €10 billion budget. Read more

EU Funds for SMEs need better management

A report from the European Court of Auditors points out that the European Commission has not yet carried out any assessment of market needs or absorption capacity. The author of the report stresses out that challenges remain to develop a pan-European venture capital market. It recommends the European Commission to adopt a comprehensive investment strategy to support less developed markets.

The report also underlines that by mid-2018, while France, Germany and the UK account for 50% of the investment, only limited investments have been made in other Member States. Read more

The circular economy can benefit SMEs

Under Horizon 2020, the European project for the transition from a linear to a circular economy came to an end after three years. The final conference hosted a debate on the circular economy and SMEs.

The main message was that SMEs can truly benefit from this new economy, if the legal framework supports their transition. Favourable fiscal treatment and reduced VAT rates could enable SMEs to go circular. This would help circular products gain market shares. All participants agreed that SMEs are able to take part in this transition. Read more

SMEs fear an EU funds reduction

Despite very positive proposals from the next European Commission President, the future investment programme InvestEU would have a budget for SMEs lower than what the current fund offers. President of SMEUnited Ulrike Rabmer-Koller reports that the European Parliament supports a €12.4 billion line, when the Commission is suggesting €11.5 billion. At the same time, the future Commissioners all stress the importance of SMEs. Read more

European Parliament

How to strengthen EU’s policy on SMEs

On 8 October, the European Commission replied to a MEP question regarding the renewal of the EU’s policy on SMEs.

In her question, MEP Henna Virkkunen (Finland/EPP) asked the Commission how does it plan to renew its SME policy. In its reply, the Commission explained how closely it works together with Member States to improve SMEs business environment and noted the progress made during the current mandate. It highlighted in particular the Single Market Programme and the way it supports SMEs. However, strengthening the Think Small First principle will be a task for the future Commission. Read more

EU Committee of the Regions

SMEs need more support to compete on global market

On 8 October, the European Committee of the Regions published a set of recommendations for a new EU strategy helping SMEs scale up their operations and gain more benefits from the single market.

It suggests notably an adjustment of the SME definition, to include within the scope companies employing up to 500 people. The Committee also calls for an increased level of funding options, and urges the European Commission to streamline ways for SMEs to access EU funds. Overall, the report underlines the importance to support SMEs to scale up and innovate from the moment they enter the local market to when they join the global market. Read more

Policy trends in public support of SMEs

On 17 October, the OECD published a new policy paper in which it discusses SME policies across its members. The report focuses notably on the transition towards new methods of production. It appears that through the OECD countries, the emphasis is made on seizing the opportunities of digitalisation for industrial innovation and addressing potential limited technological skills. States also focus on encouraging research and development in key enabling technologies. The report also analyses what is being done in supporting innovative enterprises and the development of strategic industrial sectors. Read more

UK SMEs need to report their gender pay gaps

The Bank of England urges the UK government to make small companies report their gender pay gaps. It appears that only 40% of the private sector would be covered by such an obligation.

The chief economist Andy Haldane also recalled that there was no obligation to report on ethnicity pay gap, even if the government has consulted on doing so. Today, the gender pay gap in England is close to 10%. Read more

Irish SMEs struggle with rising costs

Irish SMEs are more likely to struggle with cashflow than their international competitors, according to the last Bibby Financial Services Survey. Though rising costs are described as a great challenge for all SMEs, 49% of Irish SMEs report this as the major obstacle.

42% cited difficulties collecting payment from customers on time. Debts and availability of finance also remain key concerns. SMEs must look beyond the major banks to consider a wide range of financing options, explains the Managing Director of Bibby. Read more

Danish SMEs can choose new auditing standards

In 2013, Denmark introduced new auditing standards, called Extended Review, for SMEs to be able to choose an extended review of the financial statements instead of an audit. Today 250.000 SMEs have this option. Audit remains the most requested service, but other services from the accounting industry emerge rapidly.

This initiative came after a survey ran in 2010 in which more than half of SMEs responded they would ask commercial partners for another form of review of their account by the auditor if they opted out of auditing. The Danish law fixes the audit exemption threshold at DKK 89 million turnover.  Read more

A digital currency for SMEs in Wales

A new project called Celyn could boost SMEs across Wales. This government initiative will be a medium of payment for the exchange of surplus goods and services. It would avoid the use of any other currencies.

The idea comes from a non-blockchain based electronic system in Italy, spreading across various regions since 2008. The Welsh initiative will be the first replication outside Italy. 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.