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SMEs in the EU

News and information about the European Union's policies for small and medium-sized businesses.

Commission revises EU competition rules
The European Commission has adopted a new Regulation that 'block exempts' distribution and supply agreements at different levels of the production and distribution chain.

Commission calls for eco-innovation projects from SMEs
The European Commission today launched a €35 million call for projects that turn environmental challenges into business opportunities.

MEPs to vote on amendments to the rules of invoicing
MEPs are set to vote on 22 April on a proposal on the common system of value added tax as regards the rules on invoicing.

Commission will revise competition rules in distribution sector
The Commission next week is due to update the rules providing a 'safe harbour' for agreements between manufacturers and distributors.

Protection against long and irregular working hours must continue to be main goal of Working Time Directive
Long and irregular hours, unilaterally imposed on workers, are unhealthy and outmoded forms of work organization. The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) is expecting proposals from the European Commission that stimulate modern, sustainable and negotiated solutions, taking into account the needs of businesses and workers in a balanced way.

EC looks to boost European Company
The European Commission has launched a public consultation to determine whether changes are needed to make the European Company Statute (SE) work better. With the review of the SE Statute, the Commission is aiming to increase the use of the SE across the EU.

Review of European Company Statute - briefing
The European Company Statute (SE) gives companies operating in more than one Member State the possibility to reorganise their cross-border business under one European label. This enables them to work within a stable legal framework, reduce the internal costs of operating in several countries and hence be more competitive in the Internal Market. The SE has proved to be very popular in some Member States but it has not taken off in others. In order to determine whether changes are needed to make the SE Statute work better, the European Commission has launched a public consultation. With the review of the SE Statute, the Commission is aiming to increase the use of the SE across the European Union.

Business confidence is on the rise but an upswing is not near: SME survey
Small businesses’ confidence is on the rise for the second semester in a row but remains well below its pre-crisis levels, according to an EU-wide survey recently conducted by UEAPME, the European craft and SME employers’ organisation, and its members.

Survey highlights lack of information and funds as main obstacles to greater SME energy efficiency
A new EUROCHAMBRES survey, presented at a European Sustainable Energy Week event in Brussels today reveals that businesses are conscious of the importance and benefits of using energy more efficiently, but most of them lack the information and resources to do so.

MEPs back fresh EU money for low-carbon technologies
Euro-MPs have approved fresh EU funding for the development of innovative low-carbon technologies to help cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020.

European Parliament takes strong line on SEPA value for payment users
EuroCommerce warmly welcomes the adoption of the resolution on the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) by the European Parliament today.

EU Small Businesses Celebrate EP Decision to Exempt Micro-Entities from EU Accounting Burdens
The European Small Business Alliance welcomes today’s decision by the European Parliament to adopt the Commission’s proposal to exempt micro entities from certain EU accounting burdens. The exemption is the first real EU effort specifically aimed at micro-businesses and can be seen as the ‘flagship’ of the EUs overall commitment to reduce administrative burdens by 25% by 2010. The measure is estimated to account for savings of EUR 6.3 billion EU-wide, and is a major step towards achieving this 25% goal.

Parliament’s OK to accounting exemptions 'a step back for the internal market'
UEAPME, the European craft and SME employers’ organisation, criticised today the European Parliament for giving the green light to a deceptive proposal on accounting exemptions, which is unlikely to live up to its claimed cost reduction potential but will decrease transparency and create an uneven playing field between businesses operating in different Member States. Further to MEPs’ vote, Member States could exempt micro-companies with limited liability status from having to draw up and publish annual accounts. According to UEAPME and contrary to some claims, this will not generate a net cost reduction since micro-entities will have to keep filing accounts anyway for national administrations, banks, suppliers and customers. Moreover, red tape will be displaced rather than reduced, as MEPs allowed Member States to add further unspecified obligations to exempted micro-companies. UEAPME therefore recommended simplifying the existing harmonised accounting rules as a more viable alternative and called on the Council to reject the current proposal.

Scientists and SMEs join forces to fight influenza
Researchers and industrialists from Europe and abroad have clinched EUR 18 million in EU support for their collaboration on projects targeting influenza. In total, 52 research institutes and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from 18 European countries, as well as China, Israel and the US will work together on 4 projects to determine how influenza virus genes migrate, and how they pose a serious threat to the well-being of humans and animals. In less than a decade, the Commission has earmarked more than EUR 100 million for research on influenza.

Parliament wants to reduce red tape for small firms
Very small companies could be exempted from having to draw up annual accounts, following approval by the European Parliament of changes to EU accounting rules. Voting in the 10 March plenary, MEPs said it would be up to each Member State to grant such exemptions, depending on the impact the directive would have in that country. Companies would in any case still have to keep records of their business transactions and financial situation.

Euro-MPs urge EU rethink on competition policy
A resolution adopted by the EP today, 9 March, highlights the need to assess the effectiveness of Member States' state-aid activities during the crisis, scale back the protectionist reflexes that it triggered and update EU competition rules, inter alia by revisiting the "fines only" policy. The EP lists on-line advertising, and the telecoms, pharmaceuticals and dairy sectors as areas needing further action.

5+1 business proposals to make Europe 2020 work
The five targets outlined in the Europe 2020 strategy presented by the European Commission on 3 March represent a sound business plan to enhance the EU’s growth and competitiveness in the years to come.

e-Skills Week
The first ever European e-Skills Week highlights the growing demand for skilled ICT users and professionals to drive a competitive and innovative Europe. The campaign aims to inform students, young professionals and SMEs about the vast range of opportunities that ICT-related jobs present. The European e-Skills Week 2010 is expected to involve 300,000 participants in more than 100 activities. The events will take place across Europe with more than 20 participating countries.

SMEs deeply concerned by Parliament Committee's vote on maternity leave
UEAPME, the European craft and SME employers’ organisation, was left deeply concerned by today’s vote on the revised maternity leave directive at the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality.

SEPA: Broad range of stakeholders beginning to see huge problems
SEPA (the Single European Payments Area) risks being a massive failure unless key issues are resolved, particularly regarding the security of the Direct Debit scheme and the fact that the representatives of the banks, in the form of the European Payments Council (EPC), do not take into account the needs or wishes of any of the end-users, including consumers or businesses (retailers, services providers, SMEs).

The Understanding China training programme 2010 launched!
30 employees of business intermediary organisations from across Europe can become experts on China, thanks to the “Understanding China” training programme

Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection
Responsibilities, contacts and latest studies of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

Starting a business in Israel
This World Bank site provides information about the procedures and costs associated with starting a business in Israel.

Starting a business in Ukraine
This World Bank site provides information about the procedures and costs associated with starting a business in Ukraine.

Starting a business in Belarus
This World Bank site provides information about the procedures and costs associated with starting a business in Belarus.