The idea behind an SME Test is to analyse the effects of a legislative proposal on SMEs. The SME Test is part of the regulatory impact assessment.
10/01/2012 - SME Test Workshop
23/11/2011 - Less regulatory burden for small businesses
The Commission 'SME Test'
Impact assessment (IA) analyse the likely economic, environmental and social effects of legislation by assessing the costs and benefits of policy options. This highlights possible unintended consequences, synergies and trade-offs and helps to reach balanced, sustainable decisions. The European Commission Impact Assessment Guidelines [626 KB] set out the methodology used for the Commission Impact Assessments. The SME Test is presented in the annexes to Guidelines [960 KB] .
The SME Test comprises three main steps:
- Preliminary assessment of businesses likely to be affected
- Measurement of the impact on SMEs (cost/benefit analysis)
- Use of mitigating measures, if appropriate
The opinion of business representatives feeds into the assessment of how a new policy could affect industry. In addition to ongoing consultation with stakeholders, the Commission has developed a number of tools that help to get the opinion of businesses. These include:
SME organisations are given 12 weeks to provide written feedback to the Commission. This gives time for representative groups to consult their members on often technical legislative proposals, analyse their responses and, in some cases, build alliances with other trade bodies. Consultations are generally avoided during major holiday periods and, where it is not possible, extended deadlines can be given.
The mitigating measures
If, following the cost/benefit analysis, it is felt that SMEs would be disproportionately affected by a regulation mitigating measures can be used to soften the impact on smaller companies. On occasion, it might not be possible to prioritise the interests of SMEs without compromising the main objective of a given proposal (which could be to protect human health or safeguard the environment). In these cases it would be appropriate to think of introducing specific measures that might ease the burdeen on SMEs. These include:
- complete or partial size-related exemptions for SMEs or micro-businesses. (e.g. Commission proposal for exempting micro-companies from certain accounting requirements)
- temporary reduction or exemptions (e.g. some legislation in the field of health & safety or transport)
- reduced fees (e.g. REACH Regulation or European Medicines Agency)
- simplified reporting obligations for SMEs (e.g. statistics related to the trade of goods between Member States)
- specific information campaigns or user guides, training and dedicated helpdesks/offices (e.g. REACH national helpdesks)