SME Update

January 2022

  • European Commission and EUIPO launch new IP support funding programme for SMEs
  • European Commission’s sustainable corporate governance rules now scheduled for 15 February
  • European Parliament severely split on scope of SMEs to be included in sustainability reporting rules

Accountancy Europe’s new SME strategy: 2 years on

To mark 2 years since the kick-start of its new SME strategy, Accountancy Europe has published an SME work facts & figures document.

It provides key information about our SME achievements in 2020 and 2021. For example, our SME publications have been viewed over 80,000 times, with several of them translated by our members into 7 languages, and we have partnered on SME projects with 15 relevant organisations – including key EU institutions. Read more

European Commission

Commission launches public consultation on digital company law

The consultation, launched on 21 December, aims to contribute to a future European Commission (EC) initiative to further adapt EU company law to continuing digital developments. The deadline for responding is 8 April.

A legislative proposal, scheduled for Q4 2022, intends to:

  • improve transparency on EU companies by making more information available on a cross-border basis
  • enable the cross-border use of trustworthy company data
  • further modernise EU company law rules to make them fit for the digital age

Read more

EC and EUIPO launch new fund to help SMEs protect their intellectual property rights

The new fund, jointly issued by the EC and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), was launched on 10 February. It offers vouchers for EU-based SMEs to help them protect their intellectual property (IP) rights.

This is the second EU SME Fund aiming at supporting SMEs in the COVID-19 recovery and green and digital transitions for the next three years (2022-2024).

The SME fund has a budget of EUR 47 million, and will notably cover:

  • IP scan services
  • trademark and design registration fees – including international registration provided by the World Intellectual Property Organisation
  • fees charged by national patent offices for patent registration
  • further IP support services from 2023 onward

EUIPO’s first call for proposals to get financing from the fund was launched on the same day.

New date for Commission’s sustainable corporate governance initiative

EC has postponed the publication of its sustainable corporate governance (SCG) proposals several times now. However, according to the latest EC’s planning document, SCG proposals are scheduled to be published on 15 February. This date may still change.

One of the expected elements of the SCG proposals is around supply chain due diligence. Most SMEs are expected to be scoped out or only partially included in these requirements. Still, they may face ‘trickle-down’ impacts of the legislation as their larger supply chain partners may request sustainability-related information from them, aiming to fulfil their own legal due diligence obligations.

European Parliament

JURI Committee debates scoping of SMEs in CSRD proposal

The Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) debate took place on 10 January, on the basis of a draft report prepared by the MEP Pascal Durand (Renew Europe/France) on the EC’s proposal for a corporate sustainability reporting Directive (CSRD). This particular hearing focused on the amendments (see here and here) tabled by other MEPs to Durand’s report. A Committee vote is expected for March.

One of the main points of contention is on scoping of SMEs into the CSRD. MEPs in the room were either for or against including SMEs in the scope. As the views are very divergent, it will be difficult to achieve a consensus, Durand said during the meeting. The negotiations between MEPs will continue in the next weeks.

EC outlines how it is supporting SMEs’ sustainable and digital transitions

  • question by MEP Hélène Laporte (ID/France)
  • reply by Commissioner Breton

EC says SMEs can access MFF funding without being in a consortium

  • question by MEP Maria Grapini (S&D/Romania)
  • reply by Commissioner Breton

EC says SMEs with high digitalisation were most resilient, but 40% of EU SMEs lack even basic level digital intensity

  • question by MEP Gianantonio Da Re (ID/Italy)
  • reply by Commissioner Breton

French and German SMEs oppose tracking-based ads, survey finds

Around 75% of SMEs in France and Germany say the tracking-based advertisement used by Google and Facebook is undermining users’ privacy and human rights, a YouGov survey published on 17 January has found.

However, businesses suffer from a lack of alternatives. 69% of the surveyed business owners said they had no other option but to advertise with Facebook and Google due to their dominance on the market, and 79% of respondents said that the two tech giants should face tougher regulation on their use of personal data. Read more

UK’s late payment ‘crisis’ risks future of 440,000 small firms

More than 440,000 small firms in the UK could be forced out of business by the late payment “crisis”, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which has called for urgent government intervention to improve the way firms are paid.

Almost a third of small businesses (30%) surveyed told the FSB that they had seen the late payment of invoices increase over the last three months, with at least 8% warning that the problem has become so bad that it was threatening the viability of their business. 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.