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ESBA Bulletin of 13 July 2018

18 July 2018
by ESBA -- last modified 18 July 2018

On 12 July, the European Parliament's Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection organized a public hearing on the issue of late payments. The (lack of) implementation of the Directive by the Member States remains problematic for small businesses in particular.


Late Payments remains key issue for small companies
On 12 July, the European Parliament's Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection organized a public hearing on the issue of late payments. The (lack of) implementation of the Directive by the Member States remains problematic for small businesses in particular.

The discussion revolves around late payments both in B2B relations and in relations between public authorities and businesses. Lara Comi reiterated that paying creditors on time and providing them with options to exercise their rights when paid late will facilitate the functioning of the internal market. Business organizations name the lack of awareness as one of the key issues. Small business creditors do not always know their rights under the Directive. Recommendations included a stronger framework, a more active role for competition authorities and potential VAT exemptions for small businesses that are suffering from late payments. European Commission Head of Unit Antonella Correra, underlined that it is time for real sanctions against countries that fail to properly implement and execute the Directive.

ESBA Secretary General Patrick Gibbels said: "The issue of Late Payment is a never-ending story, at the detriment of our members, the micro and small businesses. Though we usually try to avoid debating from a large vs small businesses point of view, in the case of Late Payments, it is often the large companies that abuse their smaller suppliers as free lines of credit by paying them (far too) late. For a micro company that caters to a handful of larger clients, continued late payment by one of these clients result in involuntary job loss and ultimately to business failure. Late payments are one of the biggest burdens our small businesses still encounter today. The major difficulty with this issue is on the enforcement side. Even if small businesses know their rights, they will not easily enforce them, as they fear retaliation by – or even loss of – their big client. This is why it is so important that (competition) authorities are given a more active role in the enforcement of this Directive, taking the burden off small business owners. We can create perfect Directives at EU level, but if they are not properly enforced, the Directives will fail".

Fairer work-life balance? Not if you are a small business owner
On 11 July 2018, the European Parliament's Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) committee voted on its position regarding the Directive on work-life balance for parents and carers in the EU. The aim of achieving higher levels of female participation in the labour market and a fairer environment with equal opportunities therein for both men and women is an ambition we welcome. However, ESBA has some concerns about some of the elements in this mandate.

The EMPL committee voted to increase the current 1 month of non-transferable parental leave to 4 months. This would mean that parents, who currently have the right to transfer 3 out of 4 months, would no longer be able transfer this time period of 3 months to the other parent. We believe that it is not with the EU's mandate to determine on behalf of families, how they choose to allocate their time. From a small employer's perspective, the fact that this leave has to be paid at 78% of the gross wage level could incur additional financial burdens to SMEs, as they might be required to pay a substitute for the 4 months this worker takes up the leave to keep their organization up and running.

We also do not support an obligation for adaptable working arrangements. By their very nature, micro and small businesses are flexible, as teams are small, and employees are in close and direct contact with the business owner all the time. Creating unnecessary obligations only adds to the burden micro-and small enterprises, whilst creating a false sense of flexibility. Although Member States are invited to regularly assess and publish the impact on MSMEs on the transposition of this Directive, we feel this does not sufficiently curb the risk of potential disproportionate burdens on micro and small businesses.

For more information on Employment, please click here

EU/VAT: Special scheme for SMEs
On 11 July, the European Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON), voted in favor of the introduction of a VAT scheme for SMEs to reduce the administrative burden for Small and Medium enterprises. The plan can facilitate Cross-border trade and reduce administrative costs. Both VAT exemptions and simplified reporting are part of the proposals.

A One-Stop-Stop will be introduced to assist small enterprises in filing VAT returns of different Member States. This is supposed to make it easier for SMEs to operate cross-border.

For more information on VAT SME scheme, please click here


EU/Copyright: Still no light at the end of the tunnel
On 5 July, the European Parliament's Plenary rejected a mandate given for the Legal Affairs Committee to enter into trilogue negotiations on the Copyright in the Digital Single Market file. Two years after the European Commission tabled its proposal, the European Parliament takes a step back on the file. The report of Rapporteur Voss did not get the majority of the vote this time (278 in favour, 318 against). MEPs will have until September to submit their new amendments on the report, where they will be put to a plenary vote.
For more information on Copyright, please click here

EU/VAT: EU auditors to examine VAT & customs duties in e-commerce
On 5 July, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) launched an audit to examine the effectiveness of EU measures tackling VAT fraud and customs duties in e-commerce. By claiming VAT losses in cross-border e-commerce, the Commission wants to balance the national and the EU budgets. "The current arrangements are open to abuse by suppliers from outside the EU" said Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz, responsible at the ECA. As regards VAT fraud, the Council has agreed since 22 June on measures to administrative cooperation; a development that the Commission has welcomed. Once in force, Member States will have the possibility to exchange relevant information by making full use of an IT system and tools.
For more information on VAT, please click here

EU/Transport: Mobility Package to be returned to TRAN
On 4 July 2018, MEPs voted in plenary that the Transport and Tourism (TRAN) Committee must reconsider three legislative files on truckers' rights. Amendments regaring key issues in the files (weekly driving and rest times, cabotage and posting of drivers) had been agreed in TRAN the previous month. However, MEPs across the Parliament raised doubts and sent the file back to the Committee. It is now likely that the files on truckers' rights will not resurface until after the May 2019 European elections.
For more information on Transport, please click here

EU/Taxation: DigiTax on the Austrians agenda
On 3 July, days after the inauguration of the Austrian Presidency, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz presented the Priorities of his country's Presidency in the European Parliament. Kurz confirmed that the controversial Digital Taxation Package will be high on the agenda. The package consists of two proposals: a comprehensive one, redefining the concept of Permanent Establishment to include digital presence in the corporate tax system; and an Interim measure, which aims at taxing advertising revenues of large digital companies. According to the Chancellor, today's system is not adapted the digital age and the European Union needs to take the lead in updating it. Austria is said to push for the interim levy.
For more information on EU Taxation, please click here

EU/Employment and Social Affairs: Protecting workers' rights through multilateral cooperation?
On 29 June, trade unions concluded their reflection on current challenges in the labor market, including globalization, climate change, ageing population and digitalization. Due to the emergence of new types of labor markets, such as the platform economy, the unions believe that multilateral cooperation in a strengthened system is needed. The European Pillar of Social Rights was paised as having true potential in strengthening workers' right. Member States are encouraged to put new laws into practice.
For more information on Employment and Social Affairs, please click here


The Impact of GDPR on Users and Business: The Good, The Bad and the Uncertain
It's official. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has started to apply directly in all member states with the aim of safeguarding the processing of personal data of all-natural persons within the European Union. The Regulation is seen as the most comprehensive 'upgrade' of data protection rules over the last two decades as it repeals Directive 95/46/EC enacted in the distant 1995. GDPR standardizes and strengthens citizens' rights when it comes to collecting and processing personal data while also empowering national data protection authorities to supervise this new ambitious framework, by enhancing their responsibilities and ensuring the possibility of heavy fines at their disposal. European and global businesses (big and small) had two years to adapt to the new onerous requirements which demanded administrative, technical and even strategic changes in the way they operate. The following In Brief aims to highlight the essence of the Regulation's 99 Articles and analyze the potential impact of GDPR on both users and business.
To access this publication, please click here.

Brexit: Last call
Following the June European Council, Andrew Duff reviews the state of play in the Article 50 negotiations and looks at prospects for the long-term future relationship between the UK and the EU. The outcome of the referendum was a bad shock, but the manner in which the UK government has conducted itself in the Article 50 negotiations has worsened Britain's reputation as a negotiation partner.
Duff argues that the postponed White Paper and, more importantly, a British contribution to the drafting of the Political Declaration that will accompany the Withdrawal Agreement gives the UK its last chance to rescue Brexit. The Political Declaration is not an optional extra, and will not be 'non-binding'.
To access this publication, please click here.

Platform work in Austria: National context analysis
Focusing on Austria, this report provides an overview of online platforms matching supply and demand for paid work, looking at different platforms and activities, working conditions, legal developments, and trends and changes in the labour market. It discusses the different concepts and definitions of platform work and describe how platforms operate. Furthermore, it will look at the characteristics of platforms, reflecting the extraordinary heterogeneity of this new form of employment. In addition, it discusses the composition of the platform workforce, their working conditions and their legal employment status based on case studies of workers and expert interviews.
To access this publication, please click here


Fitness check on the EU framework for public reporting by companies
DEADLINE: 21/07/2018
The fitness check of the EU framework on public reporting by companies aims to assess whether the EU reporting framework is still fit for purpose. Its first objectives are to assess whether the EU public reporting framework is overall still relevant for meeting the objectives, adds value at the European level, and is effective, internally consistent, coherent with other EU policies, efficient and not unnecessarily burdensome. Secondly it will also review specific aspects of the existing legislation as required by EU law, and thirdly it will assess whether the EU public reporting framework is fit for new challenges (sustainability, digitalisation). Other ongoing developments in EU policies might also have an impact on the public reporting framework (Capital Markets Union, Common Corporate Tax Base, digitalisation of companies' lifecycle, etc.).
To access this consultation, please click here.

Public consultation on the evaluation of the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive
DEADLINE: 23/07/18
This consultation is part of the evaluation of Directive 2001/42/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain public plans and programmes on the environment (SEA Directive). This evaluation is part of the European Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) which involves a comprehensive, evidence-based assessment of whether the current regulatory framework is proportionate and fit for purpose and delivering as expected. With this evaluation, the European Commission (Directorate General for Environment) will assess the results achieved by the SEA Directive since its entry into application with regard to its objectives.
The aim is to gather information and the views of stakeholders and the wider public on how the SEA Directive has perceived and performed, including the value of having uniform EU legislation requiring the environmental assessment of certain plans and programmes, and the value of the opportunity the legislation provides for public and stakeholder input to the preparation and adoption of certain plans and programmes.
To access this consultation, please click here.

Public consultation on integration of long-term unemployed into the labour market
DEADLINE: 31/07/18
The aim of this consultation is to gather views on the measures proposed in the Council Recommendation on the integration of the long-term unemployed into the labour market (2016/C 67/01), and on their implementation, as well as to shed light on future possible action to support the long-term unemployed.

Addressing long-term unemployment - unemployment lasting more than 12 months - is a key political priority of the Commission's jobs and growth strategy. On 15 February 2016, the Council adopted the Recommendation.
Two years since its adoption, an evaluation on the actions taken by Member States and the Commission to implement the Recommendation is being undertaken.
The views expressed in this consultation will feed into this evaluation. The Commission will then report to the Council in 2019, based on the evaluation results.
To access this consultation, please click here.

Public consultation on the evaluation of invoicing rules
DEADLINE: 20/09/18
The scope of the consultation is to collect data and evidence needed to evaluate the invoicing rules introduced by the Second Invoicing Directive (Directive 2010/45/EU). To this aim the consultation should gather the views of the stakeholders concerned on how the Second Invoicing Directive met its set objectives and to which extent the invoicing rules are still aligned with stakeholders' needs. The aim of the consultation is also to enquire stakeholders' views on possible ways of reform. In particular, the data gathered through the consultation should allow identification and quantification of the regulatory costs, benefits, savings and burden reduction and simplification potential for businesses generated by the invoicing rules. Special focus will be on the e-invoicing and data gathered through the consultation should allow to measure and better understand the uptake of the electronic invoicing in the EU.
To access this consultation, please click here

Evaluation of the activities of the EU Intellectual Property Office related to enforcement and the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights
DEADLINE: 02/10/18
The consultation aims to collect the views of citizens and stakeholders on whether Regulation 386/2012 entrusting the EU Intellectual Property Office with new tasks has met its objective of facilitating and supporting the activities of national authorities, the private sector and EU institutions in the fight against infringements of intellectual property rights, in particular counterfeiting and piracy.
To access this consultation, please click here


13 July

  • Coreper I
  • Working Party on social questions
  • Working Party on intellectual property
  • Working Party on competitiveness and growth – industry

16 July

  • Informal meeting of competitiveness ministers (internal market and industry)
  • Working Party on land transport
  • Working Party on social questions

17 July

  • Informal meeting of competitiveness ministers (research)
  • Working Party on civil law matters
  • Working Party on telecommunications and information society

18 July/


  • College of Commissioners meeting
  • Working Party on tax questions – direct taxation

19 July

  • Informal Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council
  • Working Party on civil law matters

20 July

  • Informal Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs
  • Working Party on tax questions – indirect taxation

23 July

  • Working Party on information exchange and data protection
  • Working Party on social questions

24 July

  • Working Party on tax questions – direct taxation
  • Working Party on competitiveness and growth – internal market

25 July

  • College of Commissioners meeting
  • Coreper II
  • Working Party on tax questions – indirect taxtion
  • Working Party on social questions
  • Working Party on telecommunications and information society

26 July

  • Working Party on technical harmonization
  • Working Party on telecommunications and information society
  • Working Party on intellectual property – patents

26-17 August: SUMMER BREAK

Other SME-related events


Artificial Intelligence (AI) in law enforcement
The Objective of this Webinar is to provide a comprehensive overview on what is the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on Law Enforcement and how it can influence police models and activities in investigating, prevent or combating Cybercrime.
For more information on the event, please click here

Investing in the Future of Europe
The European Movement International and the European Investment Bank are hosting an event entitled 'Investing in the Future of Europe' held in Tallinn on July 18, 2018. Speakers from all sides of society will give their perspective on how to invest in the future of Europe and how government, employers, unions and civil society can contribute in the debate about the EU.
For more information on the event, please click here

SME growth markets: Can they deliver on promise?
Issuing equity or debt instruments can provide SMEs with the stable, long-term financing that bank lending typically does not. MiFID 2 introduced a new sub-category of multilateral trading facility (MTF) known as SME Growth Markets, with the promise to address both supply and demand problems, specifically by reducing compliance costs, lifting regulatory barriers and enhancing liquidity. But among the 40 MTFs across the EU that focus on SMEs, only three have made use of this designation so far.
For more information on the event, please click here

Facebook Live with the Austrian presidency
What are its priorities for the next 6 months? Want to know more about Austria? We will talk with Thomas Oberreiter, Deputy Permanent Representative of Austria to the EU.
For more information on the event, please click here


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The European Small Business Alliance (ESBA) is a non-party political group, which cares for small business entrepreneurs and the self-employed and represents them through targeted EU advocacy and profiling activities.

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