SME Update

September 2020

Accountancy Europe and EUIPO sign collaboration agreement to support SMEs in the area of intellectual property

EUIPO and Accountancy Europe have joined together to provide guidance and promote the benefits of Intellectual Property (IP) registration to SMEs. The organisations will unite forces and create synergies in the benefit of SMEs through the signing of a collaboration agreement. The agreement covers activities such as joint webinars and promoting training modules on Intellectual Property among SMEs.

Professional accountants are in direct contact with SMEs and in an ideal position to promote the importance of IP rights at the right moment. Through the collaboration, Accountancy Europe’s members, many of whom are small practitioners (SMPs) themselves, will benefit from the knowledge, tools and resources on IP which will allow them to point their SME clients in the right direction on IP matters.

The EUIPO is the European agency responsible for managing registrations of the EU trade mark and the registered Community design valid in all EU member states. As part of its Strategic Plan 2025, the SME Programme under the Ideas Powered for business’ brand aims to support and empower SMEs on their business journey.

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European Commission

Commission launches call for candidates to join new expert group on SMEs

In July, European Commission issued a call for applications to prospective members of its new Technical Expert Stakeholder Group on SMEs (TESG). The deadline for submitting applications was 15 September.

TESG will bring together relevant stakeholders with technical expertise to monitor and assess the functioning of SME Growth Markets, as well as provide expertise and possible input on other relevant areas of SME access to public markets. It is part of the European Commission’s Capital Markets Union (CMU) initiative, which puts great emphasis on SME access to finance. Read more

Commission planning new initiative on insolvency

The European Commission is planning a new initiative on a pan-European insolvency framework.

This initiative would address the main discrepancies in national corporate (non-bank) insolvency laws, and will consider the legitimate interests of all creditor groups, from investors and the public purse to employees and consumers.

A public consultation is expected for the upcoming weeks, and a final initiative is planned for mid-2022. Read more

Commission publishes CMU Action Plan with several SME measures

On 23 September, the European Commission published its long-anticipated Capital Markets Union (CMU) Action Plan. It lists policy measures that the Commission will initiate in the next years to foster capital market integration.

Several initiatives aim to foster SME access to finance, such as:

  • By end-2021, the Commission will assess the merits of a requirement for banks to direct SMEs whose credit application they have turned down to providers of alternative funding
  • Likewise by end-2021, the Commission will aim to further simplify SME listing conditions. This will include re-assessing the appropriateness of the SME definition
  • Additional measures on securitisation and Basel III rules to facilitate bank financing of SMEs

Survey confirms the need to support SMEs on their path towards digitalisation and sustainability

A new SME survey by the European Commission shows that 62% of EU SMEs confront barriers to digitalisation and 70% of EU SMEs say they are facing at least one obstacle that prevents their enterprise from becoming sustainable.

The survey was conducted among over 12,000 companies from all EU countries (and over 3.000 companies from 12 non-EU countries). It shows that 42% of EU SMEs say that the availability of support to help enterprises become more sustainable is poor. Read more

European Parliament

Liberals publish policy priorities for SMEs

The liberal Renew Europe (RE) Group of the European Parliament has published a policy paper outlining its SME policy commitments.

The policy paper gives indications of what policy measures RE would like to advance in order to support Europe’s SMEs in areas such as Single Market, access to finance, research and innovation, digital and green transitions and entrepreneurship. Read more

Commission outlines recent measures taken to cut red tape for SMEs

  • Question by MEP Olivier Chastel (RE/Belgium)
  • Reply by Commissioner Breton

Commission says for now EU SME definition works well

  • Question by MEP Herbert Dorfmann (EPP/Italy)
  • Reply by Commissioner Breton

Commission lists measures it has taken to support SMEs amid COVID

  • Question by a group of Italian EPP MEPs
  • Reply by Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis
  • Question 2 by MEP Julie Lechanteux (ID/France)
  • Reply 2 by Commissioner Breton

New surveys look at COVID impact on SMEs

The OECD, Facebook and World Bank have published a number of joint surveys looking at COVID’s business impact on SMEs. The aim of the surveys is to provide a window into small businesses’ experiences amid COVID. They measure the pandemic’s effects on business closures, revenue, employment, and finances, and also aim to gain insight into SMEs’ needs and challenges. Read more

ACCA publishes report on talent transformation in the SMP sector

ACCA, a member body of Accountancy Europe, has published a new report looking into talent transformation and careers in the small and medium practitioner (SMP) sector. The report is based on the findings of more than 60 interviews conducted with SMP experts from around the world and provides practical insights on talent attraction, development and retention within SMPs. Read more

European Court of Auditors will assess whether EU fosters SME internationalisation

On 25 August, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) announced its intention to assess EU support to help SMEs access international markets. It will examine how two key actions managed directly by the European Commission (the Enterprise Europe Network and the Startup Europe Initiative) have specifically contributed to achieving the EU’s goals in this area. In particular, the auditors will assess:

  • How coherent the EU’s strategy for SME internationalisation is
  • How effectively existing actions are coordinated at EU-level
  • How well they complement national initiatives

The audit is scheduled for completion in the second half of 2021. Read more

Digital SME Alliance lays out its expectations for Digital Services Act

Digital SME Alliance, representing Europe’s ICT SME sector, has issued a statement calling for targeted measures aimed at large platforms instead of one-size-fits-all approach that could hurt SMEs. Ideally, any new rules and obligations should directly tackle the issues caused by a small number of large gatekeeper platforms, i.e. they should be limited to certain thresholds. Moreover, they should be defined along a list of criteria which may include size, the associated harm and impact, turnover, network effects, lock-in of users, integration of services throughout different markets, cross-platform and cross-services collection and combination of data at a large scale. Read more

ACCA publishes new report on SMPs’ crucial role in supporting SMEs

A new report by ACCA, Accountancy Europe’s member body, has published a report on the role of small and medium sized practitioners (SMPs) in supporting SMEs. It is based on the findings of more than 40 interviews conducted with SMP leaders from around the world and is aimed to shine a light on the broader social role of the small practices.

The report looks at the social role that SMPs play in areas such as charity and NGO sectors, financial inclusion and literacy, social inclusion, sustainability and ethics. Read more

Post-lockdown planning key for SMEs striving to survive

Small business advice specialist Jon Scopes believes that SMEs must react, restructure, and rebound to survive and thrive post-lockdown. As the UK attempts to tentatively extricate itself from lockdown and what some commentators expect to be the worst economic collapse in 300 years, SMEs will need a clear strategy to help them emerge into what will, for many, be a very different landscape. 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.