• European Commission launches new SME strategy for a sustainable and digital Europe
  • European Investment Bank to mobilise up to EUR 40 billion to fight coronavirus crisis, including for SMEs
  • Accountancy Europe publishes practical recommendations to help SMEs through the coronacrisis

Coronavirus crisis: Accountancy Europe issues practical steps to protect European SMEs

The coronavirus pandemic keeps raising the stakes of what a global health emergency looks like. It is taking a heavy toll on European citizens and the economy, deeply impacting SMEs.

To alleviate the impact on SMEs, Accountancy Europe has issued two sets of practical recommendations to policymakers and SME accountants:

Véronique Willems, Secretary General of SMEunited, commented that “SMEunited welcomes the call for actions to support European SMEs by Accountancy Europe. The measures recommended are fully in line with SMEunited requests and measures proposed in many Member States. However first and foremost these measures must be implemented as fast as possible. Additionally, we have to act now with all, including the European Union, to ensure that SMEs can survive the current crisis and kick-on the recovery afterwards”.

We previously issued a webpage highlighting implications for reporting and auditing.

European Commission launches SME strategy – 11 March 2020

The strategy aims to support European SMEs through strengthening their capacities to adapt to climate neutrality, help them reap the benefits of digitalisation, reduce the regulatory burden that SMEs face, and improve their opportunities to access finance. The objective is to unleash the power of Europe’s SMEs and increase the number of SMEs engaging in sustainable business practices as well as the number of SMEs employing digital technologies.

The new SME Strategy puts forward actions based on the following three pillars:

  • Capacity-building and support for the transition to sustainability and digitalisation to ensure adequate support and advice on digitalisation for SMEs through exchange of best practices, know-how and skills;
  • Reducing regulatory burden and improving market access: The Commission will set up a new Fit for Future Platform whose role will be to screen existing EU legislation to identify potential for simplification and administrative burden reduction. Moreover, the EC will consider measures to further help SMEs with late payment challenges, including setting up a virtual observatory for monitoring payment delays, clarifying unfair payment practices and exploring alternative resolution/mediation mechanisms;
  • Improving access to financing by setting up a public-private SME IPO Fund to support SMEs through the listing process and by launching a new green tech investment initiative to increase access to equity finance for SMEs that develop and adopt green tech solutions.

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European Commission

Start-ups, SMEs take up €344 million EU research funding

107 innovative projects from across Europe will be supported with €344 million through the EU’s European Innovation Council pilot says the EC.

Funded by Horizon 2020, the selected proposals comprise an array of unique project concepts aimed at improving surgical precision during cancer-removal surgery, modernising local and global air quality monitoring, and bringing about many other ground-breaking innovations. Read More

State aid: Commission approves €3 billion Portuguese guarantee schemes for SMEs and midcaps affected by Coronavirus outbreak

The European Commission has expressed its support for a number of SME support measures taken by EU Member States to alleviate problems caused by the corona crisis.

For example, EC found four Portuguese guarantee schemes for SMEs and midcaps affected by the Coronavirus outbreak to be in line with EU State aid rules. The schemes, with a total budget of €3 billion, were approved under the State aid Temporary Framework to support the economy in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak adopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020. Read More

State aid: Commission approves Danish guarantee scheme for SMEs affected by Coronavirus outbreak

In another example, The European Commission has found a DKK 1 billion (approx. €130 million) Danish guarantee scheme for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) affected by Coronavirus outbreak to be in line with EU State aid rules. The scheme aims at limiting the risks associated with issuing operating loans to those companies that are most severely affected by the economic impact of the Coronavirus outbreak. The objective of the measure is to ensure these companies can continue their activities faced with the difficult situation caused by the coronavirus. Read More

COVID-19: Commission sets out European coordinated response to counter the economic impact of the Coronavirus

The EC is supporting SMEs that are facing economic difficulties due to the COVID-19 outbreak. To bring immediate relief to hard-hit SMEs, the EU budget will deploy its existing instruments to support these companies with liquidity, complementing measures taken at national level. €1 billion will be redirected from the EU budget as a guarantee to the EIF to incentivise banks to provide liquidity to SMEs and midcaps. This will help at least 100,000 European SMEs and small mid-caps with about €8 billion of financing. The Commission will also provide credit holidays to the existing debtors that are negatively affected. Read More

Digital innovation hubs helping public sector and SMEs in dealing with COVID-19 pandemic

On March 25th a dedicated community of Digital Innovation Hubs met to discuss the immediate and longer-term needs of SMEs due to COVID-19 and where digital tools could help them in becoming more resilient. During webinar interesting examples of innovative solutions that SMEs are coming up to directly fight the crisis were shared. One of the projects that arose during the discussion was DIH4CPS which aims to support European SMEs to overcome obstacles posed by innovative technology, also through open calls financing experiments in the area of cyber-physical systems.  Read More

European Commission publishes report on digital skills in SMEs, highlights role of accountants

European Commission and the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) have published a new report on supporting digitals skills development in SMEs.

The report marks the end of a two-year project, which was co-managed by a consortium consisting of the European Digital SME Alliance, Capgemini and Technopolis Group. Accountancy Europe also participated in the project with workshops and its recommendations.

The report proposes to develop a European Skills4SMEs Partnership to build a stronger alliance between public and private sectors to offer leadership and a vision for skills development for SMEs in Europe.

In line with Accountancy Europe’s recommendations, the report also emphasizes that accountants are well positioned to make SMEs aware of the threats (and opportunities) of cybersecurity, and trigger them to action in regular because they are in regular contact with SMEs and advise them on business continuity matters. Read more

Disclosure of non-financial information should remain voluntary according to SME United

SME United has published its first  reaction on the announcement by the European Commission in the Green Deal to review  the  Non-Financial Information Reporting Directive (NFRD). The Organisation recognizes that Non-Financial Information can be useful for the decision-making process but Non-Financial Disclosure should remain a voluntary engagement for small businesses. Read More

What SMEs expect from the WTO

SME United and its member organisations are strongly supportive of the ongoing work of the informal working group on Micro-, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). SME United calls on the informal working group and especially the EU to establish a comprehensive work programme for MSMEs. This work programme should contain different measures in order to improve the international trade environment for the smallest businesses and ensure that all companies, regardless of size, can benefit from equal and unfettered access to the global trading system, leading to a robust world economy. Read More

EIB Group will mobilise up to EUR 40 billion to help SMEs amid the coronavirus crisis

The EIB Group has proposed a plan to mobilize up to €40 billion of financing. This will go towards bridging loans credit holidays and other measures designed to alleviate liquidity and working capital constraints for SMEs and mid-caps. The EIB Group, including the European Investment Fund (EIF), will work through financial intermediaries in the Member States and in partnership with national promotional banks. Among other measures, there will be a dedicated liquidity line to banks to ensure additional working capital support for SMEs and mid-caps of  €10 billion. Read More

Members of ACCA’s Global SME Forum share how they have been responding to Covid-19

Accountancy Europe’s member body ACCA has published recommendations from members of its SME Global Forum on the crisis management situation that they are facing as running their own businesses and working with SMEs.

ACCA reminds that small and medium sized accountancy practitioners are at the forefront of supporting SMEs, best placed to help SMEs rapidly transform and adapt to the changing circumstances – for instance, helping clients apply for financial support being made available by many governments. Read more

Coronavirus: accountants play ‘key role’ accessing emergency funding

ICAEW has welcomed the Chancellor’s pledge to provide a £350bn funding boost to help the UK economy weather the debilitating effects of coronavirus and urged accountants to communicate and signpost the measures to business. ICAEW’s Director for Business and Industrial Strategy commented that the accountancy profession has a key role to play in helping businesses navigate their way through the perils of the crisis. Moreover, mortgage lenders have agreed to support people impacted by Covid-19 through a payment holiday of up to three months. Read More

Ireland Announces Help For SMEs With Cash-Flow Issues

The Irish Revenue has issued advices on the steps it is taking to help SMEs experiencing cashflow and trading difficulties arising from the impact of the coronavirus. Regarding the application of interest on late payments, Revenues reported that it has been suspended for January/February VAT and for both February and March PAYE (Employers) liabilities. Moreover, Revenue advised that business experiencing temporary cash flow difficulties should continue to send in tax returns on time. 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.