SME Update

December 2021

  • Commission publishes public consultation to alleviate SME listing rules
  • Commission planning SME credit referral scheme for 2022
  • European Parliament’s draft report expands SME scope of sustainability reporting rule

European Commission

Commission publishes report on COSME programme

The report, published on 11 November, assesses the performance of the European Commission’s (EC) COSME programme, which aims to improve the competitiveness of enterprises, especially SMEs.

The report outlines achievements in key areas such as facilitating SMEs’ access to finance and digital information services. It concludes that the COSME programme is on track to reach its objectives, and its actions continue to be relevant for fostering economic growth and creating employment opportunities, while being aligned to the evolving needs of SMEs. Read more

Commission publishes public consultation on SME listings

The objective of the public consultation is to inform EC’s decision-making ahead of a legislative proposal next year aiming to alleviate listing rules for SMEs. It was published on 19 November, and stakeholders have until 11 February 2022 to provide feedback. There are, in fact, 2 parallel consultations:

  • a more generic one for a broader range of stakeholders
  • a targeted consultation for capital market experts asking for feedback on specific pieces of legislation (and contains all the questions of the generic consultation too)

One of the measures under EC’s consideration is a simplified and shorter prospectus for SMEs that want to get listed. This is one of the long-standing demands of Accountancy Europe (see here and here).

EU financial instruments supported European SMEs during the coronavirus crises with €29 billion in 2020

EC has published the Annual Summary Report on the implementation of financial instruments in 2020. The report shows that financial instruments have supported European SMEs and other recipients for a total of EUR 29 billion in 2020. Out of these, EUR 21.6 billion (of which EUR 7 billion for working capital) under the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) have underpinned 478,000 SMEs, including 375,000 microenterprises. Read more

Commission alters SME access to finance state aid guidelines

EC published on 6 December new technical improvements to the EU Guidelines on State aid to promote risk finance investments. The improvements would allow EU countries to set up dedicated support for young and innovative businesses and steer investments to the relevant fields for a greener and more digital economy. Read more

European Parliament

Commissioner McGuinness tells ECON Committee EC will propose SME credit referral scheme

The hearing took place on 1 December at the European Parliament’s ECON Committee. Commissioner McGuinness appeared at the Committee as part of EC’s structured regular dialogue with relevant parliamentary committees.

During the hearing, the Commissioner listed measures that EC plans for 2022 to facilitate SME access to capital market financing. Among the measures to look forward to is: a package of proposals to make listings more accessible for SMEs (see item about the public consultation above); setting up a fund to help SMEs cover IPO related costs; and setting up a bank referral scheme especially for SMEs.

Under such a referral scheme, banks who turn down an SME’s request for a loan would refer that SME to alternative finance providers. This is a measure that Accountancy Europe has been calling for.

European Parliament draft report on CSRD expands SMEs’ scope

MEP Pascal Durand (Renew Europe/France) is leading European Parliament’s work on EC’s proposed corporate sustainability reporting Directive (CSRD). Mr. Durand’s report has now been published.

Crucially for SMEs, the report proposes to slightly expand CSRD’s scope to also cover medium-sized businesses that operate in ‘high risk’ sectors. Such businesses would then fall under mandatory sustainability reporting rules from 2026 onward. Mr. Durand calls on EC to produce rules for defining what high risk sectors would entail.

According to Accountancy Europe’s latest information, a JURI Committee vote on Mr. Durand’s draft report would take place on 16 or 17 March.

Once the Parliament has finalized its position on CSRD, it will need to negotiate with EU Member States in the Council to find a compromise. Read more

Sustainability reporting: why should SMEs care?

Call it the pandemic effect, but the penny is finally dropping that environmental and social reporting is becoming the responsibility of all practitioners and companies – not just large complex organisations and their advisers. Johan Barros, EU Policy Manager at Accountancy Europe, explains.

“We take the climate emergency very seriously,” says Barros. “Sustainability is one of Accountancy Europe’s main priorities for the next few years. And this permeates into all areas of our work, including those that relate to SMEs”. Find out more how and why sustainability matters for SMEs, and how their accountants can help. 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.