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Small Business Act review will strengthen small businesses and drive growth
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More must be done to help Europe's small and medium-sized enterprises, according to a review of the Small Business Act by the European Commission.

The Small Business Act (SBA) is the EU policy framework aimed at strengthening SMEs so that they can grow and create employment. Between 2008 and 2010, the Commission and EU member states implemented actions set out in the SBA to alleviate administrative burden, facilitate SMEs’ access to finance and support their access to new markets.

Although all member states have acknowledged the importance of a rapid implementation of the SBA, the approach taken and the results achieved vary considerably between member states.

The review underlines that member states have to step up their efforts to promote entrepreneurship and SMEs to support entrepreneurship in today’s difficult economic climate.

Therefore the Commission is proposing a number of initiatives to give fresh impetus to the SBA.

    Small Business Act review will strengthen small businesses and drive growth

    European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship said: "SMEs represent more than 99% of all businesses and employ more than 90 million in Europe. They are the engine behind our economy and must be kept strong, competitive and innovative. Member states must act quickly to ensure that the Small Business Act is fully implemented."

    Europe's 2020 strategy and Europe’s economy heavily rely on SMEs achieving their potential. In the EU, some 23 million SMEs employ 67% of the private sector workforce.

    Giving fresh impetus to the SBA

    The Commission is determined to continue to give priority to SMEs. To reflect the latest economic developments, align the SBA with the priorities of the Europe 2020 strategy and continuously improve the business environment for SMEs, the review proposes further action in a number of priority areas.

     Improved access to finance to invest and grow

    - access to loan guarantees for SMEs through strengthened loan guarantee schemes;

    - action plan for improving SMEs’ access to finance, including access to venture capital markets, as well as targeted measures aimed at making investors more aware of the opportunities offered by SMEs;

    - allow all banks, independent of size, to easily implement EIB loans and EU instruments.

    Smart regulation to enable SMEs to concentrate on core business

    - improved EU legislation through an SME test for the Commission’s legislative proposals paying specific attention to the differences between micro, small and medium enterprises;

    - development of “points of single contact” in member states to facilitate administrative procedures;

    - quantified targets for reduced "gold plating", the practice of national bodies to exceed the terms of EU directives when translating them into national law.

    Making full use of the Single Market

    - proposal for a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base;

    - measures to facilitate cross-border debt recovery;

    - revision of the European standardisation system making standards more SME-friendly and easily accessible;

    - guidance to SMEs making use of labelling of origin rules.

    Helping SMEs face the challenges of globalisation and climate change

    - proposals to support SMEs in markets outside the EU;

    - new strategy for globally competitive clusters and networks;

    - specific action on regional knowledge transfer between environmental and energy experts within the Enterprise Europe Network.

    Background

    Successful SBA Initiatives since 2008

    The Small Business Act (SBA) is the first comprehensive SME policy framework for EU member states.  Since its adoption in June 2008, considerable progress has been made through actions to strengthen SMEs in a number of areas, such as:

     - 100,000 SMEs have benefited from the financial instruments of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme, creating more than 100,000 jobs;

    - through the late payment directive public authorities are now required to pay their suppliers within 30 days, improving the cash flow of businesses.

    - in most EU member states the time and cost of setting up a company has been considerably reduced, lowering the EU average for a private limited company from 12 days and 485 euro (£563) in 2007 to 7 days and 399 euro (£463) in 2010.

    - streamlined online procedures and opportunities for joint bidding have made participation in public procurement easier for SMEs.

    - the new EU SME Centre in China helps SMEs accessing the Chinese markets.

     


    For more information, please contact the London press office on 020 7973 1971.
    Please note: all amounts expressed in sterling are for information purposes only

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    Last update: 23/02/2011  |Top