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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

Think Small First principle

The Think Small First principle requires that legislation takes SMEs' interests into account at the very early stages of policy making in order to make legislation more SME friendly. A range of tools is available to ensure the effective implementation of the principle. These include the application of an SME test to forthcoming legislative proposals, the use of specific SME provisions in legislation in order to avoid disproportionate burden on SMEs, the consultation of the SME stakeholders, the work of the SME Envoy, the use of Common Commencement dates for legislation relevant for business etc.

23/11/2011 - Less regulatory burden for small businesses

The Commission presented a new approach to ensure that the EU responds better to the needs of small businesses.

From now on, the European Commission will seek wherever possible to exempt micro-enterprises from EU legislation or introduce special regimes so as to minimise the regulatory burden on them.

In a report to the Council and the European Parliament, the Commission presents a list of initiatives of this kind already taken and to be examined for the future.

It announces stronger means to ensure the input of micro-enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to the formulation of new EU initiatives.

Small Business Act for Europe

The Think Small First principle is at the heart of the Commission Communication Small Business Act for Europe. The overarching objective of this political document is to irreversibly anchor the Think Small First principle in policy making through the application of 10 politically binding principles and a series of actions to be performed by the Commission and the Member States.

Report of the Expert Group Think Small First - Considering SME interests in policy-making

As part of the efforts to implement the Small Business Act for Europe and in accordance with its mission to promote the sharing of knowledge and experience among the Member States, the Commission formed in 2008 an expert group from national administrations to look at the application of the Think Small First principle at EU and national level. The group's report issued in March 2009 provides a definition of the Think Small First principle and presents a number of good practices at national and EU level on how to Think Small First in order to implement the Small Business Act for Europe. The purpose of highlighting European good practice is to suggest to policy makers in the Member States concrete solutions for the improvement of the business environment

The SME test

Consultation of SME stakeholders

Consulting the SME stakeholders is an indispensable element for the implementation of the Think Small First principle. The Report on the consultation of stakeholders pdf - 148 KB [148 KB] in the shaping of small business policy at national/regional level provides examples of European best practice. The Commission uses a variety of tools in order to reach European SMEs. These include regular consultations with sectoral and horizontal business organisations represented at EU level, consultations of panels of businesses, and online public consultations.

SME Envoy

The European Commission's SME Envoy, Daniel Calleja Crespo, is the contact point for small businesses and SME stakeholders at the European Commission giving them the chance to provide feedback on regulation, but also to get involved at an early stage in the conception of new policies and laws. Mr Calleja is a high-ranking official and serves as Director General at DG Enterprise and Industry. Inside the Commission the Envoy plays the role of ambassador for SMEs' interests and raises awareness about SMEs' problems as well as promotes less burdensome regulation for the businesses.

Common Commencement Dates

The concept of 'Common Commencement Dates' is an innovative solution to improve the life of SMEs. In line with the Think Small First principle and the Better Regulation Agenda, the idea is that business-related legislation comes into force on a limited number of fixed dates, with a view to ensuring a more streamlined flow and early information on new regulation concerning SMEs.

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