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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

SME Test

The idea behind an SME Test is to analyse the effects of a legislative proposal on SMEs.  It is a key action to implement the "Think Small First"principle - the core principle of the Small Business Act (SBA) for Europe . The SME Test is part of the Commission's regulatory impact assessment.

The Commission 'SME Test'

The Impact assessment analyses the likely economic, environmental and social effects of legislative proposals by assessing the costs and benefits of policy options. This highlights possible unintended consequences, synergies and trade-offs and helps to reach balanced and sustainable decisions. The European Commission Impact Assessment Guidelines pdf - 626 KB [626 KB] set out the methodology used for the Commission Impact Assessments. The SME Test is presented in the annexes to Guidelines pdf - 960 KB [960 KB] .

The SME Test comprises four main steps:

1.  Consultation with SMEs/SME representative organisations.

The Commission has developed a number of tools which help to get the opinion of businesses.  These include the Enterprise Europe Network and the Network of SME Envoys.

2.  Preliminary assessment of businesses likely to be affected

3.  Measurement of the impact on SMEs (cost/benefit analysis)

4.  Use of mitigating measures, if appropriate (more details) pdf - 117 KB [117 KB]

More focus on micro enterprises when applying the SME Test

As announced in its November 2011 reporton "Minimizing regulatory burden for SMEs "Adapting EU regulation to the needs of micro-enterprises (COM(2011)803 final), the Commission has strengthened its commitment to ensure proportionality in the EU approach to regulation, in particular with regard to micro-enterprises, i.e. SMEs with less than 10 employees and a turnover or balance sheet total equal to or less than €2 million.

For more information see the Operational Guidelines to Assess Impacts on Micro-Enterprises

SME Test in Member States

The Review of the "Small Business Act" for Europe invites the Member States to systematically assess the impact of legislation on SMEs using an "SME Test".  The Commission facilitates the exchange of good practices on how to apply the "SME Test".

SME Test Workshop (2012)

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