The entire European economy is negatively affected by late payment. To protect European businesses, particularly SMEs, against late payment, the EU adopted Directive 2011/7/EU on combating late payment in commercial transactions in February 2011.
The SME Test analyses the possible effects of EU legislative proposals on SMEs. Assessing the costs and benefits of policy options helps implement the 'think small principle' and improve the business environment.
EU SMEs often find taxation matters burdensome. The Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs carries out SME taxation studies and projects to find out how their tax situation could be improved.
Accounting systems must meet the needs of small enterprises, providing necessary information while avoiding unjustified administrative burden. We conduct studies on accounting legislation applicable to SMEs to find ways to improve the legislative environment.
The SME envoys make up an SME policy advisory group that promotes SME friendly regulation and policymaking in all EU countries. It was launched as part of the small business act review. EU countries nominate a national SME envoy to complement the role of the EU SME envoy who chairs the network.
The SME assembly is the most significant event for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe. The conference takes place once a year during the European SME week. Together with the network of SME envoys, the assembly creates the governance structure of the small business act.
The SME performance review monitors and assesses countries' progress in implementing the SME strategy and the Small Business Act (SBA), mapping SME performance in EU countries and partner countries.
Administrative procedures can discourage potential entrepreneurs from setting up their own businesses. We aim to reduce the burden of administrative procedures and encourage more people to become entrepreneurs, create new jobs, and improve Europe's economic performance.
With the SME strategy for a sustainable and digital Europe, the European Commission wants to support and empower SMEs of all sizes and sectors, from innovative tech start-ups to traditional crafts.
See the SME strategy
Building capacity and supporting SMEs in their transition to sustainability
Achieving a climate-neutral, resource-efficient, and agile digital economy requires the full mobilisation of SMEs.
The over 600 members of the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) offer tailored services to SMEs. The EEN will provide dedicated Sustainability Advisors and other sustainability services.
Traditional SMEs are often uncertain in their choice of digital business strategy, have problems tapping large repositories of data available to larger companies and shy away from advanced AI-based tools and applications. Such SMEs will be supported by a network of up to 240 Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH), in each region of Europe.
With the support of the Digital Europe Programme, the Commission will develop digital crash courses for SME employees to become proficient in areas such as AI, cybersecurity or blockchain, building on the experiences of the digital skills and jobs coalition platform.
The Commission will also launch a programme for ‘digital volunteers’ to allow young skilled people and experienced seniors to share their digital competence with traditional businesses.
Reducing regulatory burden and improving market access
The SME strategy proposes actions to remove regulatory and practical obstacles to doing business or scaling up within the Single Market and beyond. The Late Payment Directive strengthens businesses' rights to prompt payment. With the SME test, the Commission assesses the costs and benefits of new legislation for SMEs. The 'think small principle' promotes the use of one-stop-shops, electronic procedures and other measures to help SMEs comply with the legislation or to access EU programmes.
To find out ways to improve the accounting legislation and the tax situation of SMEs, the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs carries out studies and projects in this field.
The Commission’s priority is also to ensure that enterprises make the most out of cross border activities, both within the EU Single Market and outside the EU. More on SME internationalisation.
Improves access to financing
Access to finance is one of the most pressing issues for many small enterprises. The Commission works on improving the financing environment for SMEs and provides information on funding. More on access to finance.
An EU country partnership for delivery
To deliver results, the new SME Strategy will be underpinned by a robust partnership between the EU and EU countries, including regional and local authorities.
The EU SME Envoy will work together with national envoys to ensure and monitor the implementation of the strategy and the application of the ‘think small first principles’ in all EU policies.
The SME Assembly, the most significant event for SMEs in Europe, presents different approaches to promoting SME entrepreneurship.
The European SME Week is a pan-European campaign consisting of events throughout the whole year. The main event of the European SME Week is organised every autumn together with the SME Assembly and the European enterprise promotion awards ceremony.
The SME performance review monitors and assesses countries' progress in implementing the Small Business Act (SBA) every year. The review brings comprehensive information on the performance of SMEs in EU countries and other partner countries. It consists of 2 parts: an annual report on European SMEs and SBA country fact sheets.
To help create a business-friendly environment and boost SMEs' competitiveness on a regional level as well, the European Commission provides analysis.