Minimizing regulatory burden for SMEs

Small businesses are the ones hardest hit by the economic crisis, yet they make a major contribution to jobs and growth. The Commission is firmly committed to supporting the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the EU. Its 'Think Small First' principle means that SMEs should be considered as early as possible in the policy-making process.

In November 2011, the Commission presented a new policy statement, 'Minimizing regulatory burden for SMEs - Adapting EU regulation to the needs of micro-enterprises', to ensure that the EU responds better to the needs of small businesses. According to this Report, the Commission will try to exempt micro-enterprises as a starting point of any new EU legislation, or, where this is not possible, introduce special rules to minimize the regulatory burden for them.

From January 2012, the Commission has extended the standard length of consultations from eight to twelve weeks to facilitate the participation of small businesses.

In addition, the Commission will:

  • strengthen the processes it uses to consult small businesses when reviewing existing EU regulation and preparing new EU laws, including through conferences in Member States;
  • seek views from small business and compile and publish a 'Top Ten' list of the most burdensome EU regulations;
  • produce an annual scoreboard to indicate which proposals the Commission has produced to reduce regulatory burden for small businesses and show how the proposals are amended by the Council and European Parliament.

Upcoming Commission proposals are regularly published as roadmaps, providing an early opportunity for small businesses and other interested stakeholders to be informed about legislation that might affect them and take part in the consultation process.

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