• Simplified VAT rules for SMEs agreed in the Council
  • New framework for SMEs to access capital market
  • New Global Initiative for SMEs digitalisation launched by the OECD

The cost of innovation for SMEs

On 19 November Accountancy Europe organised its Digital Day, focusing on the cost of innovation, during which a panel discussed the biggest challenges for SMEs. It was highlighted that investing in technology is not like investing in any product, it’s about becoming a digital company. The massive trade-offs can be discouraging for SMEs, but they should remember they have the advantage of being more agile and flexible to adapt.

It appears that SMEs should embrace cloud technology, that will enable them to fill the gap in data analysis. Indeed better data lead towards better business decisions. This technology offers cost effective solution for SMEs, that will give them the power of larger companies.

To help SMEs through digitalisation, accountants can provide them with the right information, and help them to better understand financial data. Accounting firms should show the power of technology and could become the broker of digital skills for SMEs. See more

European Commission

European Small and Mid-Cap awards

On 12 November, the European Commission (EC) awarded four SMEs that accessed capital markets via an initial public offering for their best practices in taking full advantage of the EC plan. The latter fosters an ecosystem for SMEs to develop and these four firms have successfully scaled-up their businesses thanks to the EU capital market. Read more.

SME performance review

On 26 November, the European Commission published its annual report on EU SMEs. In this report, the Commission suggests policy approaches for the coming years, and strongly highlights the need for two-side actions, both from Member States and from the European Union. Improvement in the innovation environment would have an important effect for SMEs, and though the EU can improve access to finance, more local policies directly targeting innovative SMEs would strongly help SMEs to scale-up. Read more.

Early warning procedures’ results

Launched in December 2016, the EU project Early Warning Europe aimed to help companies avoid bankruptcy. On 14 November, the results of the project were presented. The project trains over 680 volunteer mentors on how to approach entrepreneurs in distress and find solutions to financial problems and other difficulties. Across the EU, more than 200.000 companies per year enter into insolvency procedures in three years, more than 3.300 companies from four EU Countries were already supported by the project. Read more.

How to finance SMEs’ digitalisation

On 14 November, the European Investment Bank (EIB) published a new study on financing the digitalisation of SMEs. EIB provides recommendations on how to address the challenges of digitalisation, with a central platform for digital awareness or new debt instruments. The study underlines how digital maturity of SMEs is affected by financial and non-financial factors. To fill the gap, digital innovation hubs have a crucial role to play. Read more.

European Parliament

SMEs will benefit from a better use of free trade agreements

On 13 November, some Members of the European Parliament (MEP) called on the Commission to facilitate the rules of origin criteria in EU free trade agreements. They consider that the preferential utilisation rate could be improved with new tools for SMEs. They asked for a ‘Rule of Origin Calculator’ tool to help them determine the preferences applicable to their products. The cost of developing it will be a little more than one euro per exporting SME.

Commissioner for Trade promised a tool for businesses was going live next spring. Read more.


Simplified VAT system for SMEs

On 8 November, EU Finance Ministers agreed to update the already existing VAT rules for SMEs. Their cross-border activities will benefit from a new regime with a reduced administrative burden and a level playing field for businesses, regardless of their State of establishment.

The agreement provides with a uniform domestic turnover threshold of €85.000 and an EU-wide threshold of €100.000 to be eligible for an exemption in another Member State. This new scheme should enter into force in 2025. Read more.

New rules promoting access to SME growth market

On 8 November, the Council adopted a set of legislative reforms as part of the Capital Markets Union (CMU) project. This package contains a new framework to help SMEs access equity financing through SME growth markets. It introduces alleviating amendments to the Market Abuse and Prospectus Regulations – including alleviated reporting obligations. Read more.

The OECD launches the Digital Global Initiative for SMEs

On 29 November, the OECD hosted the first roundtable focusing on a digital global initiative for SMEs. The meeting focused on the opportunities and challenges of the SME environment. By promoting knowledge sharing and lessons on how SMEs can seize the benefits of digitalisation, the OECD  is eager to help SMEs fill the gap in the digital transition. Read more.

Long term financing opportunities for Spanish SMEs

On 28 November, the European Investment Bank (EIB) announced that it has invested €60 million in a Spanish platform to provide SMEs funding in Spain. This is the first securisation of loans coming from a new direct lending platform, which will support SMEs by complementing the offer of traditional lenders. Read more.

SMEs in Great Britain are reluctant to trade beyond their borders

A recent study on International Commercial Arbitration found that most of SMEs in the Commonwealth have legal apprehensions to trade beyond their national borders. Tackling commercial disputes with suppliers in another jurisdiction can indeed be time and resource consuming. To address this issue, the study suggests a system for dispute resolution more accessible and affordable, that would be rapidly mobilised to maintain business relationship. 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.