Accountancy Europe has published a new article in its SME sustainability series featuring Jens Poll, Accountancy Europe’s Deputy President. Mr. Poll shares his personal experiences in supporting SMEs with their sustainable transition.
Contrary to the general perception, being an accountant can be incredibly rich and fulfilling. With the sustainability challenges we face, accountants have a new mission: guiding SMEs so they can integrate sustainability within their businesses. The conversation is starting, and accountants can provide input, ideas and inspiration. Positions such as marketing and sales are already well established in a business, but that is often not the case with a sustainability officer. Sometimes, these roles will have taken some ESG considerations, but bringing these together coherently and taking sustainability to the next level can be a purposeful goal for accountants.
European Commission (EC) has published a so-called ‘taxonomy navigator’, a new website offering a series of tools to better understand the EU Taxonomy in a simple and practical manner, ultimately facilitating its implementation and supporting companies in their reporting obligations. The tool can support SMEs – and accountants supporting them – who would like to understand the taxonomy’s implications for their business better.
The European Parliament’s (EP) Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee adopted its final position on the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) with 19 votes in favour, 3 votes against and 3 abstentions on 25 April.
The scope captures more companies than the initial proposal of EC, lowering the threshold to 250 employees and a worldwide turnover of over €40 million. This means that, at least formally, EU SMEs are excluded from the scope. However, as highlighted by Accountancy Europe, SMEs would, either way, be affected by value chains. The EP position includes more explicit SME support and guidance requirements to support SMEs in dealing with these ‘trickle-down’ effects.
EP is expected to vote on its mandate on 1 June as a next step. The negotiations with the Council will follow.
EP’s JURI Committee organised a first exchange of views on the EC proposal concerning the harmonisation of insolvency law across the EU on 25 April. During the hearing, MEPs pointed out the significant differences among Member States’ national insolvency laws and how this could be detrimental to cross-border investments and the realisation of the Capital Markets Union.
MEPs raised concerns about further aspects of the proposal, including the winding up of micro-enterprises, avoidance actions and the suspect period’s starting point, the clarity of the pre-pack proceeding, and the role of professional insolvency practitioners. The discussion highlighted the importance of ensuring clear rules and conditions, clear regulations, and the need to strike the right balance between optimising the process and ensuring a fair outcome.
The draft report by MEP Pascal Arimont (EPP/Belgium) is expected in September-October, followed by a JURI vote in February 2024.
Accountancy Europe published a factsheet describing the proposed key changes in EC’s VAT in the digital age proposal on 14 March. The proposals were issued in December 2022 with the intention to:
The proposals’ main change area is to promote e-invoicing and have a near real-time reporting system for intra-EU cross-border commerce by 2028. Implementing the provisions will challenge many tax authorities and businesses, especially SMEs.
The SME Business Climate Index presented on 16 March drops to 71.3, showing that SME recovery is stalling. However, the index stays above the baseline of 70, meaning no recession is expected in the coming months. Last semester’s results are well above expectations, showing that past concerns about an economic downturn did not materialise. Nevertheless, core inflation is still going up due to the impact of wage increases, significantly impacting the labour-intensive services sector. Moreover, SMEs still face labour shortages and trade restrictions due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Following JURI Committee’s vote on CSDDD (see article above), Accountancy Europe published a statement outlining its suggestions to the trilogue negotiators on 26 April. On SMEs, the statement underlines the need for guidelines and tools to support SMEs affected by the Directive through value chains. The guidelines must be targeted and transparent. We call on the EU institutions to continue dialogue with these SMEs to ensure supporting mechanisms fit their needs. The EC should also assess the Directive’s impact on SMEs in the future, and SMEs should be allowed to apply the Directive voluntarily.
The EU’s Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has expanded the scope of its SME fund, which aims to provide financial assistance to EU SMEs when they go through their intellectual property (IP) registration process. With the changes, the fund will provide the following financial assistance coverage:
SMEs can apply for the funding directly or with the support of their advisors, such as accountants. To learn more about the benefits of IP for SMEs and how to kick-start the process, see here for Accountancy Europe’s and EUIPO’s joint publication.
Read moreThis curated content was brought to you by Johan Barros, Accountancy Europe Senior Manager, Head of Advocacy & Policy, since 2015. You can send him tips by email, follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.