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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

What does the SBA do for SMEs?

The Small Business Act aims to...

Design rules according to the 'Think Small First principle'

All new legislative and administrative proposals at European and national level should be subjected to an 'SME test' to assess their impact on small businesses. Where this impact is considered negative, Member States will be able to use measures such as derogations, transition periods and exemptions.

New legislation can include fewer reporting requirements for SMEs and measures to cut down on paperwork.

For example, through the EU Directive on VAT invoices, electronic invoices are put on an equal footing to paper invoices. A separate EU Directive will offer the opportunity to EU Member States to relieve micro enterprises from the obligation to present their annual accounts.

Facilitate SMEs' access to funding

The European Investment Bank Group increasing the range of financial products it offers to SMEs, particularly mezzanine finance. In addition, more funds will be made available by the Commission for micro-credit and access to cross-border venture capital will be facilitated.

Late payments can be crippling for SMEs. The new Directive on combating late payment in commercial transactions should put an end to this situation.

Help SMEs to get most out of the EU's Single Market

A new statute for a European Private Company will allow SMEs to start up and operate according to the same company law provisions throughout Europe.

The new legislation on lower VAT rates for labour intensive services will have a positive effect on SMEs in sectors such as hairdressing, catering, and repair services.

Create an entrepreneurial environment

With 'Erasmus for young entrepreneurs', new and budding entrepreneurs can gain experience and insight by spending time in an SME in a different country.

Honest entrepreneurs who have faced bankruptcy should quickly be given a second chance, by promoting a positive attitude in society towards a fresh start.

As part of the European SME Week 2009 and 2010 more than 2,000 events were organised throughout the EU to highlight business support measures and new opportunities. These special weeks have also helped to raise awareness about the important contribution entrepreneurs make to the EU economy.

Adapt public policy tools to SME needs

A new code of best practice for public procurement will facilitate SMEs' access to public procurement contracts. The code improves access to information about public contracts and how to bid on-line, reduces excessive financial requirements, and cuts down on paperwork.

Member States will have scope for providing direct assistance to SMEs. A higher level of state aid will be allowed to smaller companies, and rules for state aid to SMEs will be made simpler. In addition, national governments will no longer need to notify this support to the Commission.

For more examples of how the SBA helps SMEs, click here.

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