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SMEs Guides

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Guides on the EU Enterprise policy for small- and medium-sized enterprises.
High Level Group on Administrative Burdens by EUbusiness — last modified 20 September 2013, 13:59 CET
The High Level Group on Administrative Burdens advises the Commission on the administrative burdens placed on businesses, in particular small businesses. It concentrates on how to simplify existing EU legislation and make national public administrations more efficient and responsive to the needs of companies – particularly smaller ones – when implementing EU legislation. The Commission's initiative for the reduction of administrative burdens by 25% between 2007 and 2012 was supported by the High Level Group. It is expected, in the medium term, to lead to an increase of 1.4% in EU GDP, equivalent to €150 billion.
E-invoicing in public procurement by EUbusiness — last modified 27 June 2013, 13:56 CET
The European Commission has today proposed a draft directive on e-invoicing in public procurement, accompanied by a communication setting out its vision for the full digitisation of the public procurement process, so-called 'end-to-end e-procurement'. E-invoicing is an important step towards paperless public administration (e-government) in Europe – one of the priorities of the Digital Agenda - and offers the potential for significant economic as well as environmental benefits. The Commission estimates that the adoption of e-invoicing in public procurement across the EU could generate savings of up to €2.3 billion.
Financial reporting obligations for limited liability companies (Accounting Directive) by EUbusiness — last modified 13 June 2013, 13:16 CET
The European Parliament on 12 June voted in new Accounting and Transparency Directives, a modernisation of financial reporting obligations, which should see costs reduced, in particular for SMEs.
Access to finance for SMEs by EUbusiness — last modified 02 May 2013, 17:57 CET
A joint European Commission - European Investment Bank Group report on the activities facilitating access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in 2012 was presented at a meeting of the SME Finance Forum, on the eve of an Informal Competitiveness Council on 2 and 3 May in Dublin. European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Enterprise and Industrial policy, also launched a new single online portal for all EU financial instruments for SMEs as well a web-based information guide for SME stock listings, to promote SME listings and stimulate investors’ interest in SMEs and mid-caps.
EC moves to cut legal red tape by EUbusiness — last modified 24 April 2013, 18:28 CET
The European Commission is proposing to slash red tape for citizens and businesses by doing away with bureaucratic rubber-stamping exercises which are currently required to get public documents, such as your birth certificate, recognised as authentic in another EU Member State. Currently, citizens who move to another Member State have to spend a lot of time and money in order to demonstrate that their public documents (such as birth or marriage certificates) issued by their Member State of origin are authentic. This involves the so-called 'Apostille' certificate which is used by public authorities in other states as proof that public documents, or the signatures of national officials on documents, are genuine. Businesses operating across EU borders in the EU’s Single Market are also affected. For instance, they will often be required to produce a number of certified public documents in order to prove their legal status when operating cross-border. These requirements date from an era when countries would only trust a public document if it came from the foreign office of another country. However, just as we trust in each other's court judgements, we should be able to trust a Member State's Registry Office issuing birth certificates, without needing their foreign office, justice ministry, or other authorities to vouch for them. Today, the European Commission is therefore proposing to scrap the 'Apostille' stamp and a further series of arcane administrative requirements for certifying public documents for people living and working in other Member States.
Disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large companies and groups (proposal to amend Accounting Directives) by EUbusiness — last modified 16 April 2013, 17:17 CET
The European Commission has proposed an amendment to existing accounting legislation in order to improve the transparency of certain large companies on social and environmental matters. Companies concerned will need to disclose information on policies, risks and results as regards environmental matters, social and employee-related aspects, respect for human rights, anti-corruption and bribery issues, and diversity on the boards of directors.
Simpler accounting requirements for small companies by EUbusiness — last modified 10 April 2013, 00:17 CET
The European Parliament and Council of the EU have agreed new, simpler accounting requirements for the preparation of financial information. It is hoped this will result in a reduction in the administrative burden for small companies (SMEs).
Modernisation of the European Trade Mark System by EUbusiness — last modified 27 March 2013, 15:42 CET
The European Commission has presented a package of initiatives to make trade mark registration systems all over the European Union cheaper, quicker, more reliable and predictable. The proposed reform would improve conditions for businesses to innovate and to benefit from more effective trade mark protection against counterfeits, including fake goods in transit through the EU's territory.
Late Payments Directive by EUbusiness — last modified 12 March 2013, 14:21 CET
By 16 March 2013 EU Member States will need to have integrated the revised Late Payments Directive into their national law. It obliges public authorities to pay for goods and services within 30 calendar days or, in very exceptional circumstances, within 60 days. Businesses should pay their invoices within 60 calendar days, unless they expressly agree otherwise and if it is not grossly unfair to the creditor.
Ten most burdensome EU laws for SMEs by EUbusiness — last modified 07 March 2013, 17:03 CET
In a broad consultation initiated by the European Commission, around 1,000 small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and business organisations have now identified the top 10 most burdensome EU laws. The purpose of this broad consultation was to check where EU regulation might be impeding jobs and growth and to identify areas or issues which would require further examination and action where necessary.
European Retail Action Plan and Green Paper on unfair trading practices in the business-to-business food and non-food supply chain by EUbusiness — last modified 31 January 2013, 18:15 CET
The European Commission has adopted a European Retail Action Plan and a Green Paper on unfair trading practices in the business-to-business food and non-food supply chain. The retail and wholesale services sector is seen as one of the most important in the EU economy and should play an important part in stimulating growth and job creation under the Europe 2020 strategy. It accounts for 11% of EU GDP and 29% of European SMEs and employs nearly 33 million people, offering job opportunities in particular for young people, women and people with lower skill levels or qualifications. However, a number of barriers remain that hinder the smooth functioning of cross-border sourcing, consumer access to cross-border retail services and market entry for retailers.
Entrepreneurship Action Plan by EUbusiness — last modified 09 January 2013, 13:48 CET
The Entrepreneurship Action Plan is a blueprint for decisive action to unleash Europe's entrepreneurial potential, to remove existing obstacles and to revolutionise the culture of entrepreneurship in Europe. Investments in changing the public perception of entrepreneurs, in entrepreneurship education and to support groups that are underrepresented among entrepreneurs are indispensable if we want to create enduring change. Only if a large number of Europeans recognise an entrepreneurial career as a rewarding and attractive option will entrepreneurial activity in Europe thrive in the long term.
New European approach to business failure and insolvency by EUbusiness — last modified 13 December 2012, 17:32 CET
Businesses hit by the economic crisis will be thrown a lifeline under a new proposal from the European Commission today to modernise Europe’s rules on cross-border business insolvency, helping to give otherwise viable businesses a ‘second chance’. The Commission is proposing to modernise the current rules on cross border insolvency which date from 2000. Benefiting from ten years of experience, the new rules will shift focus away from liquidation and develop a new approach to helping businesses overcome financial difficulties, while at the same time protecting the right of creditors to get their money back.
Action Plan on European company law and corporate governance by EUbusiness — last modified 12 December 2012, 17:09 CET
The European Commission has adopted an Action Plan outlining future initiatives in the areas of company law and corporate governance.
Single European Patent by EUbusiness — last modified 11 December 2012, 14:24 CET
EU inventors will soon be able to get a unitary patent at last. After over 30 years of talks, the European Parliament put its stamp to a new regime which will cut the cost of an EU patent by up to 80%, making it more competitive vis-à-vis the US and Japan. In the compromise deal with the Council endorsed by Parliament on 11 December 2012, MEPs cut costs for small firms and tailored the regime better to their needs.
2013 Annual Growth Survey by EUbusiness — last modified 29 November 2012, 00:25 CET
The European Commission on 28 November adopted the 2013 Annual Growth Survey (AGS), setting out five priorities designed to guide Member States through the crisis to renewed growth. The AGS kick-starts the European Semester for economic policy coordination, which ensures Member States align their budgetary and economic plans with the Stability and Growth Pact and the Europe 2020 strategy.
Improved access to EU funds for European businesses, towns, regions and scientists: rules of application for the New Financial Regulation by EUbusiness — last modified 30 October 2012, 17:53 CET
Following the recent entry into force of the new Financial Regulation the European Commission has adopted new detailed Rules of application. The delivery of EU funds to businesses, NGOs, researchers, students, municipalities and other recipients will be improved as of 1 January 2013 thanks to simplified procedures. The new legislation increases transparency and introduces higher accountability for anyone dealing with EU finances. It includes wider possibilities to use lump sums and flat rates for smaller amounts, eliminates the need to fill in the same details every time you apply for EU funds and introduces on-line applications as well as many other new features.
SME Performance Review - guide by EUbusiness — last modified 16 October 2012, 14:18 CET
The European Commission on 15 October released results of the SME Performance Review 2012 report, together with fact sheets describing SMEs' progress in all EU Members States. Despite the challenging environment, SMEs stood their ground as the backbone of the European economy, accounting for more than 98% of all enterprises with some 20.7 million firms and more than 87 million people employees. The lion’s share (92.2%) of SMEs is represented by micro firms with fewer than ten employees. It is estimated that SMEs account for 67% of total employment and 58% of gross value added (GVA). Trends in Member States are increasingly divergent and there has yet to be a positive signal on the employment front. In this fragile situation, decisive policy action to tackle the factors that determine SME growth may tip the balance.
New industrial revolution communication by EUbusiness — last modified 10 October 2012, 17:42 CET
Europe needs to reverse the declining role of industry for the 21st century with the aim to deliver sustainable growth, create high-value job and solve societal challenge that we face. Immediate action should contribute to reverse the current downward trend from its current level of 15.6% of EU GDP to as much as 20% by 2020. Therefore the Commission proposes a number of priority actions to stimulate investments in new technologies, to improve the business environment, to access to markets and to finance, particularly for SMEs, and ensure that skills meet industry’s needs. Europe's industry is well placed to assume this role: Europe is a world-leader in many strategic sectors such as automotive, aeronautics, engineering, space, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Industry still accounts for 4/5 of Europe's exports and 80% of both Europe's exports and of private sector R&D investment comes from manufacturing. If confidence comes back, and with it new investments, Europe's industry can perform better and start growing again. This is the core message of a communication tabled by European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani in Brussels today. The actions proposed by this Communication should also contribute to reduce competiveness gap across Member States and EU regions.
EU late payment campaign by EUbusiness — last modified 05 October 2012, 17:48 CET
Every year across Europe thousands of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) go bankrupt waiting for their invoices to be paid. Yet late payment of bills is often seen by many as a perfectly acceptable practice. To end this damaging culture of late payment in Europe, European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani launched today in Rome an information campaign across all 27 EU Member States and Croatia, to encourage speedy incorporation of the Late Payment Directive into national law, even before the absolute deadline on 16th March 2013.