On 29 January the European Commission adopted its 2020 Work Programme. It sets out the actions the Commission will take to turn the political guidelines of President von der Leyen into tangible benefits for European citizens, businesses and societies. Regarding SMEs, the EC will present a new Skills Agenda to help identify fill-kill shortages, as well as support reskilling. The EC will also undertake a comprehensive new Industrial Strategy for Europe that supports the ecological and digital transition and upholds fair competition. This will be backed up with a dedicated SME strategy that will make it easier for SMEs to operate, scale up and expand. The Commission is expected to report on the Single Market Barriers and propose a Single Market Enforcement Action Plan to ensure better implementation and enforcement by 10 March. Read More
Early warning schemes help companies prevent insolvency and are accessible to all businesses throughout the EU. More than 3,300 companies from four EU countries have already been supported by the Early Warning Europe project. This COSME co-funded project presented the results at its final conference in Brussels on 14 November. Read more
The SME Access to Finance Initiative will support around 1,000 SMEs and sustain some 18,000 jobs across target countries allowing financial intermediaries to take more risks and grant financing on favourable terms. For this project, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the EU bank, and the EC have joined forces in the SME Access to Finance Initiative developed under the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) in order to support economic growth, innovation and employment in EU neighbouring countries. Read More
The European Commission launched an online platform dedicated to start-ups, investors and institutions aiming to foster the development of start-up activities throughout Europe. Read More.
The EC aims to have “the broadest possible definition ” of SMEs said Kristin Schreiber, director of DG Grow, in light of the SME strategy. This was stated during an exchange with MEPs from the Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE) on Tuesday 18 February. She stressed that any SME definition that we have should apply to as many as possible SMEs without any exclusion. The question of the definition of SMEs resurfaces within discussions with the preparation of the SME strategy, which should be presented by 10 March. Read more
The EC launched a public consultation on the upcoming revision of the Non-Financial Reporting Directive. Regarding SMEs, the consultation tackles the possibility to have a simplified reporting standard for SMEs. In addition to this public consultation, there will also be targeted surveys addressed to SMEs, and to companies currently under the scope of the NFRD. The EC has committed to reviewing the NFRD in 2020 as part of its strategy to strengthen sustainable investment in Europe. Read More
On February 10 the European Parliament held a Plenary session on SMEs and better regulation.
At the session, Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, recognised that currently there are too many barriers for SMEs. As such, he will appoint an SME envoy as a contact point so that they can be better informed of the situation on the ground. Moreover, in order to ensure flexible, adaptable and agile legislation, for each new regulation an old one will be removed (one out, one in principle).
Several MEPs stressed the importance of reducing the red tape for SMEs, ensuring adequate access to finance for SMEs and the need to guarantee that SMEs can compete across borders in the internal market.
In particular, MEP Ivan Štefanec (EPP, SK) said that SMEs do not have time to closely follow all new legislative developments and that he appreciated the one in, one out idea. In addition, Gilles Lebreton (ID, FR) stated that SMEs must have adequate access to funding and there must be a level playing field across the EU.
On 22 January 2020, the European Court of Auditors published Special Report No 2/2020 entitled “The SME Instrument in action: an effective and innovative programme facing challenges”. As the SME Instrument has been redesigned for 2021-2027 as part of the European Innovation Council (EIC), in the report, ECA makes recommendations for preserving aspects of its design, improving project selection, enhancing business acceleration services and creating synergies with other financial instruments.
The Council of the European Union suggested that the Permanent Representatives Committee should instruct the Working Party on Research to examine whether the report is in compliance with the Council’s law. Read More
The Council adopted simplified VAT rules applicable to small businesses. The purpose of the new measures is to reduce the administrative burden and compliance costs for small enterprises and create a fiscal environment which will help SMEs grow and trade across borders more efficiently. The new rules will apply as of 1 January 2025. Read More
The European Investment Bank (EIB) and Banca March are once again joining forces to provide financing with favourable conditions in terms of both maturities and interest rates to Spanish small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-caps. For this purpose, the EU bank has provided a €200 million loan to Banca March, which will add a further €200 million. As a result, the total funding made available to Spanish companies to fund their working capital and investment projects will be €400 million. The agreement was signed today by EIB Vice-President Emma Navarro and Banca March CEO José Luis Acea. The project will support investments in innovation and companies in areas with high unemployment. Read More
Digital SME Alliance calls on the EC and other relevant stakeholders to join forces in upskilling SMEs in digitalisation and cyber security.
Digital SME Alliance (representing Europe’s ICT SMEs) has published a new position paper on digital skills for SMEs. Through this position paper, Accountancy Europe applauds the paper’s recommendations and welcomes the fact that the paper recognises the important role of SME intermediaries – including accountants – in supporting SMEs with digitalisation and cyber resilience. We are happy to have contributed to this important project driven by the Digital SME Alliance. Read More
SMEs are pleased that the EC intends to focus its support to the most impacted regions at NUTS 3 level, making the support conditional to a transition plan and including support for investments in SMEs. However, it is important that all the economic and social partners are involved in the elaboration of the concrete transition plans at regional level, particularly including SME associations. Read more
SMEunited supports the efforts of the Green Deal to push for equal engagement of the EU’s international partners to fight climate change as well as the actions boosting some of SMEs’ traditional markets, such as repair and refurbishing. However, there is some uncertainty regarding the Sustainable Europe Investment Plan and the new Circular Economy package. Read more
The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Flanders Participation Company (PMV) have signed a EUR 60 million loan agreement with a view to setting up a new platform, managed by PMV, for loans to Flemish SMEs. PMV intends to use flexible long-term loans to provide SMEs with growth or investment plans with the opportunity to further diversify their funding and provide them with solutions supplementing traditional bank loans. 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.