On 5 December, EU Member States in the Council adopted their Conclusions on the future of the EU’s Capital Markets Union (CMU) project. The Conclusions are a political signal to EC on what the Member States would like the Commission to focus on with the CMU agenda.
Of relevance for SMEs, the Conclusions for example call for:
According to latest information, the European Commission’s awaited SME strategy is likely to be launched on 4 March. This new strategy will put forward a horizontal vision for fostering the SME environment in the EU, and most probably will also aim to assess where more proportionate or less burdensome rules for SMEs should be considered.
On the same day, the Commission will also publish its new Industrial Strategy, a communication on updating skills in the EU, an Action Plan on Single Market Enforcement as well as a report on barriers in the Single Market. All of these documents are also likely to be very relevant for Europe’s SMEs.
On 15 January, the European Parliament adopted its position on the VAT special scheme for SMEs, by a margin of 592 votes in favour, 22 votes against and 51 abstentions. The file in the Parliament was led by the MEP Inese Vaidere (EPP/Latvia).
Already in November 2019 the Council reached its own position on the proposal, with a unanimity of EU member states. The European Parliament’s position, for its part, is legally non-binding but was required in order for the Council’s position to be finalised and eventually to become EU law.
Croatia began its six-month rotating Council Presidency in January 2020, and published its work priorities.
SMEs appear to be relatively high on the new Presidency’s agenda. For example, the work programme aims to increase the competitiveness of SMEs, with particular focus on the development of a coherent SME strategy based on the ‘Think Small First’ principle, fostering key entrepreneurial competences, and improving the use of intellectual property systems in business. The Presidency will also emphasise the transfer of SMEs and facilitate their access to financing. Read more
The European Parliament’s and the Council’s negotiators have reached a preliminary agreement on the Commission’s crowdfunding platforms proposal.
Under the agreement, the common EU 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).
Moreover, to enable smaller companies to use the crowdfunding option, the shares of certain private limited liability companies have also been included in the scope. The legislation will include additional clarification on how investors should be informed.
As next step, both the Parliament and the Council will need to formally approve the compromise text. Read more
The EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has published a new report which makes the case of EU trade mark (EUTM) licensing for SMEs.
According to the report:
This is the first report on the value of EUTM licensing by EUIPO. Read more
The European Central Bank (ECB) has published a report on the export activities of SMEs, based on statistics from its Survey on Access to Finance of Enterprises (SAFE).
It provides an overview of the export activities of euro area SMEs both within and outside the euro area, and explores the main characteristics of exporting SMEs. It also analyses some financial dimensions that are relevant to the decision to export. Read more
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published its priorities for 2020-2022. According to its priorities, ESMA will notably advocate for more proportionate and standardised disclosures for SMEs, and the development of specific SME markets for high net worth investors. Read more
The European Digital SME Alliance, the European association for digital small businesses, has published a new position paper on cybersecurity, in which it notably calls for European cybersecurity certification.
The Alliance argues that such certification schemes, if done well, could significantly improve cybersecurity across Europe, especially for consumers and SMEs with limited technical literacy. Moreover, there is a need to develop cybersecurity solutions tailored to different types of SMEs. Read more
Peter Jonach, a representative of the German Federal Association of banks, argues that sustainable finance will become increasingly relevant for smaller companies too.
He notably argues that as a result of sustainable finance regulation, banks will have to incorporate non-financial aspects into their risk management. This means that real economy companies – SMEs included – will need to provide the finance industry with information about their compliance with sustainability requirements, if they are to be included in the assessment of investment projects. 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.