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EU Rules Must Provide a level playing field for SMEs

23 April 2019
by smeunited -- last modified 23 April 2019

Crafts and SMEs in Europe demand equal footing and effective enforcement of existing legislation to ensure fair competition in the Single Market.


Illegal market practices, disproportionate compliance costs, unfair tax regimes and late payments prevent SMEs from innovating, growing and creating jobs. A level playing field allows businesses to prosper and grow and avoids disadvantages for SMEs compared to other stakeholders. Smart regulation, taking into account the specific nature of small companies, needs to become a reality in the European Union.

"This week, SMEunited focuses its campaign for the European elections on ensuring a level playing field for SMEs in the Single Market," announced SMEunited President Ulrike Rabmer-Koller. "SMEs are ready to compete and ask for fair play, as today they still encounter imbalances regarding economically more powerful market players."

SMEs should not be held back by an uneven regulatory environment. Therefore, "good legislation must be drafted to best match the reality of small businesses so that they can implement it easily," argued Ms Rabmer-Koller. "Due to their specific nature, SMEs already face higher compliance costs and bigger burdens when screening the regulatory environment and dealing with legislation."

"We firmly believe in the 'Think Small First' and the 'Once Only' principles, both can contribute to significantly reducing administrative burdens", she explained. The main benefit of less red tape for SMEs will be less costs and more time for company owners to dedicate to their core business tasks and personal lives, and it will improve compliance.

Finally, more than half the enterprises in Europe are exposed to late payments. "Late payments put SMEs' liquidity at risk and lead to a vicious circle where businesses receiving late payments are forced to engage in costly bank funding or themselves pay their sub-contractors late. Both public authorities and large companies should finally take on their responsibility for paying on time. A proper enforcement of existing rules will also contribute to level the playing field for SMEs", concluded Ms Rabmer-Koller.

SMEunited is the association of Crafts and SMEs in Europe with around 70 member organisations from over 30 European countries. SMEunited represents national cross-sectoral Craft and SME federations, European SME branch organisations and associate members. Combined, it represents more than 12 million enterprises with around 55 million employees across Europe. SMEunited is also a recognised employers' organisation and European Social Partner. SMEunited was formally known as UEAPME.

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