The European Commission, in past weeks, has granted EU Member States a range of exceptions to EU state aid rules in order enable them to support their struggling SMEs in times of COVID.
The Commission has now published a helpful one-stop-shop document that gives an overview of all the national support schemes it has given a green light on. Many of these support schemes – although not all – are explicitly aimed at SMEs. Read more
The European Parliament’s research service has published a new study focusing on the role of SMEs in the EU’s long-term industrial strategy.
It presents the recent SME and digital strategies, together with the European Green Deal, and recommends the rigorous application of the Think Small First principle in the European Commission’s impact assessments and policy evaluations. The study also calls for the development of different strategies for different SME segments, arguing in favour of an SME support policy which mirrors the ambition of the digital and green transitions. Read more
On 25 May, Commissioner Thierry Breton in charge of SME policies held a hearing with MEPs of the Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee. The hearing focused on EU’s corona recovery plans.
During the session, MEP Angelika Niebler (EPP/Germany) stressed that SMEs are struggling with liquidity issues and called for due implementation of the EU’s 2019 Directive on preventive restructuring and insolvency.
In his reply, Commissioner Breton confirmed that in the Commission’s upcoming corona recovery plan there will be a specific initiative addressing the issue of insolvency to support SMEs and other companies.
On 19 May, the Council adopted the so-called SURE instrument, a temporary scheme which can provide up to EUR 100 billion of loans under favourable terms to member states.
SURE enables EU member states to request EU financial support to help finance the sudden and severe increases of national public expenditure related to national short-time work schemes and similar measures, including for self-employed persons.
The additional financial backing that SURE provides for EU member states will also help support national schemes to enable SMEs to retain their workforce and talents. Read more
ACCA, one of Accountancy Europe’s member bodies, has published a new survey of finance professionals that gives an indication of the business impacts of COVID.
The survey, which gathered input of over 10,000 participants from over 100 countries, notably found that the operation value chain is dramatically affected, leading to a significant number of respondents to see a fall in customer demand, major supply chain disruptions, deferred launches of new products and services, and capital investment plans being put on hold. Almost 40% of respondents are already experiencing cash-flow issues – a particularly difficult challenge for SMEs. Read more
New data published by SMB Group and based on a survey of over 500 SMEs provides an overview of the impact that the COVID crisis is having on SMEs in different sectors.
The data demonstrates that COVID impact varies by type of business, with three categories most affected: personal service, hospitality and retail. The smaller the company, the harder it is hit, with companies with less than 20 employees most affected. This is because a small business with less than 20 employees typically lacks cash flow and capital. Those companies were the first to reduce hours for employees or lay off employees. Those businesses were also the first to stop hiring subcontractors. Read more
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published a public consultation on the functioning of SME Growth Market regime in the EU. It is seeking stakeholders’ views on one draft technical standard on liquidity contracts and one on the insider list for SME Growth Markets issuers which aim to alleviate the administrative burdens of trading on public markets for SMEs, while at the same time safeguarding market integrity.
The deadline to provide input to the consultation is 15 July. Read more
The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) – of which Accountancy Europe is the European regional network partner – has published an action plan for transforming small accountancy practices amid the COVID crisis.
The document points out how COVID is accelerating the adoption of technology for many firms whose employees are now operating remotely through flexible work arrangements. The unprecedented situation is giving accounting practitioners significant opportunities to adapt and provide services in a quickly changing economic environment, IFAC underlines. Accountants are in the best spot to offer clients with an array of services to help them cope with these difficult and uncertain times. Read more
The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) has also published a business continuity checklist aimed for SMEs. The Checklist is a diagnostic tool to help SMEs and their accountants navigate times of disruption, covering in particular two key areas: Financial Management Tasks and Strategic Management Tasks. Read more
According to a survey conducted by OnPay, 61% of SMEs are completely satisfied with the range of services their accountant offers, and a majority of them would call their account a ‘trusted advisor’.
The survey also shows that payroll, accounts payable/accounts receivable, financial projections, cash flow, choosing a business entity, and business consulting are key functions SME owners want from their accountants. A significant number of SMEs also expect their accountant to provide advice on software recommendations, employee benefits, and HR. 83% of SME owners ask their accountant for technology advice.
The survey comes at a time where SMEs, struggling with COVID and business survival, are in need of all the support and advice they can. To support these efforts, Accountancy Europe recently published guidance for its small practitioner members to help them support their SME clients. Read more
ICAS and ICAEW, two leading chartered accountancy bodies and members of Accountancy Europe, have jointly published free-to-access guidance for owners and directors of SMEs to assess the prospects of their business in the wake of COVID.
The guidance aims to help SMEs that have been affected by the coronavirus crisis as they prepare their accounts. The free guidance explains to business owners and directors the importance of forecasting cash flow and how to reflect the impact of COVID. Additionally, it provides suggestions on how to work with auditors and accountants during the pandemic, including the need to provide evidence which shows that conclusions reached regarding going concern are reasonable. 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.