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A small business act for European SMEs

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A ‘small business act’ for European SMEs

SUMMARY OF:

European Commission Communication (COM(2008) 394 final) — ‘Think small first’ — A ‘small business act’ for Europe

SUMMARY

WHAT DOES THE SMALL BUSINESS ACT (SBA) DO?

The communication sets out a number of principles designed to encourage entrepreneurship in the EU and to make it easier for small businesses to thrive.

It also includes legislative proposals for implementation both at EU level and at national level in EU countries.

It is a non-binding document but was endorsed by the Council and has received the support of the European Council and European Parliament.

KEY POINTS

The main priorities of the SBA are to promote entrepreneurship, improve access to finance, reduce the regulatory burden and improve access to markets and internationalisation.

These priorities are set out in 10 principles designed to guide the design and implementation of policies at EU and EU country level:

  • 1.

    create an environment in which entrepreneurs and family businesses can thrive and entrepreneurship is rewarded;

  • 2.

    ensure that honest entrepreneurs who have faced bankruptcy quickly get a second chance;

  • 3.

    design rules according to the ‘think small first’ principle;

  • 4.

    make public administrations responsive to the needs of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs);

  • 5.

    adapt public policy tools to SMEs’ needs: facilitate SMEs’ participation in public procurement and better use State aid possibilities for SMEs;

  • 6.

    facilitate SMEs’ access to finance and develop a legal and business environment supportive to timely payments in commercial transactions;

  • 7.

    help SMEs to benefit more from the opportunities offered by the EU’s single market;

  • 8.

    promote the upgrading of skills in SMEs and all forms of innovation;

  • 9.

    enable SMEs to turn environmental challenges into opportunities;

  • 10.

    encourage and support SMEs to benefit from the growth of markets.

A 2011 European Commission review of the SBA found that:

  • most initiatives have been adopted,
  • of the 4 legislative proposals, only the European private company statute has not been adopted,
  • there are variations in the approaches of EU countries to implementation and differing results,
  • most EU countries have adopted targets to reduce administrative burdens but not all have achieved them.

The review also proposed new actions with the aim of integrating the SBA into the Europe 2020 strategy. Those actions included:

  • the promotion of the ‘only once’ principle to administrative bodies when requesting information or documents,
  • improving access to finance through loan guarantees to help SMEs deal with the challenges of globalisation and climate change,
  • a common consolidated corporate tax base to help firms in the single market.

A 2014 public consultation on the SBA found that progress had been made but that:

  • administrative and legal burdens remained the biggest concern,
  • access to finance remained difficult despite the measures taken,
  • further effort is needed with respect to accessing markets, in particular improving links between existing EU programmes.

BACKGROUND

For more information, see ‘The small business act for Europe’ on the European Commission’s website.

ACT

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — ‘Think Small First’ — A ‘Small Business Act’ for Europe (COM(2008) 394 final of 25 June 2008)

RELATED ACTS

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — Review of the ‘Small Business Act’ for Europe (COM(2011) 78 final of 23 February 2011).

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: EU Regulatory Fitness (COM(2012) 746 final of 12 December 2012).

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Entrepreneurship ‘2020 Action Plan’ — Reigniting the entrepreneurial spirit in Europe (COM(2012) 795 final of 9 January 2013)

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Smart regulation — Responding to the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (COM(2013) 122 final of 7 March 2013)

last update 24.02.2016

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