• European Parliament and Council reach sustainability reporting agreement with implications for SMEs
  • European Commission mulling pan-EU SME credit referral scheme
  • European Commission publishes SME performance report

Accountancy Europe launches ‘SMP talks’ series

The series consists of articles featuring each a small and medium-sized accountancy practitioner (SMP) who services small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) clients. The purpose is to showcase to our Members and stakeholders the crucial role that accountants play in supporting SMEs navigate through challenges. We also hope that SMPs from across Europe will find these examples useful for their own work.

The first article, featuring Cyril Degrilart from Paris, was published on 6 July. In it, Cyril gives advice for fellow SMPs on how they can continue to deliver value for SME clients in the future.

Look forward to further articles in the next weeks and months, with a particular focus initially on SMPs’ work in supporting SMEs’ sustainable transition.

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European Commission

Commission approves prolongation of financing deadline under European Guarantee Fund

The European Commission (EC) approved on 14 June a prolongation of the deadline for banks to provide new financing to companies under the European Guarantee Fund (‘the Fund’). EC approved the establishment of the Fund in December 2020 and its subsequent amendment in November 2021.

The Fund is aimed at addressing in a coordinated manner the financing needs of European companies, mainly SMEs, affected by the coronavirus pandemic by providing guarantees on debt and equity instruments. Until now, the deadline for banks to provide new financing to companies was 30 June 2022. The prolongation is until 31 December 2022.

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Commission publishes SME Performance Report 2022

The report was published on 20 June and concludes that, in 2021, Europe’s SMEs have been shifting to more sustainable and digital business models. That was despite dealing with difficult challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and now, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The report also highlights the risks of rapidly rising prices of energy and raw materials, new supply shortages and rising inflation at a time when implementing the green and digital transitions is particularly crucial.

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EU reaches agreement on sustainability reporting Directive with listed SMEs in scope

On 21 June, the Council and the European Parliament (EP) reached a political agreement on the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).

In the press conference held the day after, rapporteur Pascal Durand (Renew Europe/France) and Commissioner McGuinness presented the outcome of the CSRD negotiations. Commissioner McGuinness highlighted that this agreement is a major step as financial and sustainability information would be put on an equal footing for the first time in the EU and beyond. As she mentioned, it is key that sustainability reporting standards must be verified.

Of interest for SMEs, the final agreement includes some changes. The scope is enlarged to all large and all listed companies (250+ employees). The reporting for listed SMEs will begin in 2027 (for financial year 2026), but SMEs can ‘opt-out’ from reporting requirements for a two-year transitional period.

For the reporting standards themselves, a second set of sector specific standards as well as SMEs should be adopted by the EC by 30 June 2024.

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Commission maps out next steps for SME credit referral scheme

The EC published its feasibility report on 7 July, studying the possible policy options for setting up a pan-EU SME credit referral scheme. Under such a scheme, banks declining credit to an SME would be required to re-direct it to providers of alternative funding. The assessment concludes that a potential referral scheme, building on the European Single Access Point (ESAP) proposal currently under negotiation, would be the most promising avenue. The Commission will wait for the outcome of the ESAP negotiations before considering next steps.

The report assesses the use of a so-called “core and more” approach for SMEs’ ESAP disclosures under this scheme – a recommendation made by Accountancy Europe to the EC recently. Accountancy Europe has called for such a SME credit referral scheme since 2017.

MEP questions & replies

EC says no separate SME support to tackle impact of Russia sanctions, but other support still available

  • question by cross-party group of MEPs
  • reply by Commissioner Breton

ACCA publishes sustainability toolkit for SMEs and SMPs

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Accountancy Europe’s Member, has launched a new series of toolkits aimed at offering practical support to accountants in small business in their crucial role of supporting livelihoods and sustainable growth, especially among their SME clients.

The toolkits will be progressively released throughout the year and will cover the following areas:

  • leading sustainability
  • attracting, retaining, and managing talent
  • going digital
  • developing new services

The first toolkit on sustainability is already out, with more to come.

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Almost 500,000 UK small businesses ‘at risk of going bust within weeks’

Rising costs have created a “ticking timebomb” for UK small business owners, the chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has warned, with almost half a million firms at risk of going bust within weeks without a fresh wave of government support.

While the FSB chairman, Martin McTague, applauded the (former) chancellor Rishi Sunak’s latest support for consumers through the £15bn cost of living package announced earlier in May, he said some of those recipients could lose their jobs unless the government rolled out targeted measures for their employers.

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.