Small Business Act – stepping up a gear
Italian entrepreneurs can now start up a business in 24 hours. The country’s authorities have introduced a simplified procedure making it possible to set up a company without bureaucratic hassle: all entrepreneurs need to do is send an electronic form to the Companies Register which re-submits it to the tax and social security offices after registration.
This improvement forms part of a series of measures adopted by each Member State following the Small Business Act (SBA), introduced by the European Commission in 2008 to boost entrepreneurship, promote SMEs’ growth and make their life easier according to the ‘Think Small First’ principle.
A number of achievements have already been accomplished since its launch:
- the average time and cost to start up a company has fallen across the EU from 12 days and €485 in 2007 to nine days and €399 in 2010;
- public authorities are now required to pay invoices within 30 days;
- access to public procurement has been made easier for small firms;
- the new EU SME Centre in China is helping SMEs to access the country's markets;
- barriers preventing small businesses from marketing new ideas have been progressively lifted;
- 100 000 businesses have benefited from financial instruments made available through the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP).
This month’s review of the SBA reveals that while significant steps forward have been achieved throughout Europe, there is potential for taking this process further.
Priority areas for stepping up efforts include improving access to finance, adapting regulation to the needs of small firms and maximising market opportunities inside and outside the EU.