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SMEs in the EU

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

More Risk Capital: equity funding
Innovative growth-oriented businesses need equity investment. The European Commission in particular is seeking to improve the functioning of the EU's single market for equity investments.

Borrowing Environment in the EU
Most businesses in Europe rely on bank loans for their external financing. However, borrowing can be difficult for SMEs - particularly if they lack collateral or do not have a long enough track record or credit history. For this reason, governments and other public authorities often facilitate small businesses' access to lending via various loan and guarantee schemes.

EU Funding for SMEs
To facilitate small businesses growth and development, the EU has set out a comprehensive system of financial policies and instruments to support smaller businesses - SMEs - with the most appropriate sources and types of financing at each stage of their life.

The "Small Business Act" for Europe
Adopted in June 2008, the "Small Business Act" for Europe (SBA) reflects the European Commission’s political will to recognise the central role of SMEs in the EU economy and for the first time puts into place a comprehensive SME policy framework for the EU and its Member States.

5th EUROCHAMBRES survey on the Services Directive
About 40% of European national Chambers of Commerce believe that their country will not have fully implemented the Services Directive by the 28 December 2009 deadline. This marks the first drop in Chambers' confidence on the directive's implementation throughout EUROCHAMBRES' monitoring of the process.

One year later, EUROCHAMBRES deplores deadlock of Union for the Mediterranean
One year after the optimistic launch of the "Union for Mediterranean", EUROCHAMBRES regrets that none of its two main components have advanced: the ambitious aim of creating a Union for political dialogue on shared Euro-Med challenges was repeatedly blocked by different countries, making their cooperation in this matter conditional on the solution of political conflicts in the region, and the identified priority projects still wait to be kick-started as they suffer from a lack of financing and ownership, with the secretariat of the Union still to be created.

Funding opportunities in the EU pharmaceutical industry
Expand your business in the pharmaceutical industry through the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme developed by the European Commission to support innovation and SMEs in the EU.

New Microfinance initiative: a valuable tool to stimulate entrepreneurship and create jobs
EUROCHAMBRES warmly welcomes the 'Progress Microfinance Facility' presented by the European Commission today as a sound initiative to encourage and support entrepreneurship. Thanks to this new EUR 100 million fund, people who have lost or are at risk of losing their job and want to start their own micro-enterprise will be able to obtain loans up to EUR 25,000, and be assisted with mentoring, training, coaching and capacity building.

European Social Partners' revised agreement on parental leave: one extra month of parental leave
On 18 June 2009, in the presence of Vladimir Spidla, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, the European Social Partners, have formally adopted an agreement revising their 1995 Framework Agreement on Parental Leave.

EU Finance Day for SMEs
EU Finance Day for SMEs is a series of events in the Member States that the European Commission is organising to inform about the EU financial instruments for SMEs together with the national financial intermediaries that implement these instruments locally. The aim is to raise awareness about different sources of finance and provide a forum for sharing good practices in helping innovative SMEs get easier access to finance. One-day event will be organised in all EU Member State capitals in 2008-2009. A list of dates is provided regularly on this site.

Assignment "Strengthening credit operations in a local microfinance organization": Request for Expressions of Interest
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) through its Advisory Services in Europe and Central Asia and via its Azerbaijan and Central Asia Microfinance Transformation Program intends to finance the assignment "Strengthening credit operations in a local microfinance organization".

Shared Commitment for Employment - briefing
The EU will make available EUR 19 billion of planned European Social Fund expenditure to support people hit by the economic crisis. Together with the European Investment Bank Group and other partners, a new EU loans facility will be set up to provide micro-credits for those who would usually have difficulty accessing the necessary funds to set up a business or a micro-enterprise.

EUR 1 trillion EU regulatory burden on business: study
On the eve of Competitiveness Council discussions on better regulation, a new study published by EUROCHAMBRES estimates that complying with and reporting on EU regulation introduced in the last 11 years has cost European businesses over EUR 1 trillion.

Commission revision on Late Payments does not go far enough
Intrum Justitia, Europe's leading Credit Management Services company, commends the European Commission's proposal to amend the existing Late Payment Directive and agrees with EU Enterprise Verheugen as describing late payments as a "disease". Intrum Justitia also agrees that SMEs are hard hit by the crisis and the problems of companies' liquidity in a time of the credit crunch must be addressed by the Commission.

Fight discrimination, harassment and violence against Lesbians and Gays in the EU: report
The EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) today publishes its new report "Homophobia and Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the EU Member States: Part II - The Social Situation". The report finds that discrimination, harassment and violence against LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) persons are widespread throughout the EU.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) - briefing
Corporate social responsibility is companies acting voluntarily and beyond the law to achieve social and environmental objectives during the course of their daily business activities. The European Commission is promoting inclusive and good quality employment practices within enterprises, particularly within the supply chain and down to the respect for human rights in the international context.

Small businesses' confidence hits new record low: first EU SME survey
European SMEs have reached a new record low in business confidence, according to an EU-wide survey recently conducted by UEAPME, the European craft and SME employers' organisation, and its members.

Eurovignette vote: mixed results say business organisations
European business organisations UEAPME Transport Forum, EUROCHAMBRES and EuroCommerce were left with mixed feelings by today's contradictory voting results on the Eurovignette directive at the European Parliament's plenary session.

EU Entrepreneurship Action Plan
In 2004, following the debate launched by the Green Paper on Entrepreneurship, the Commission published an Action Plan based on the extensive feedback received. The Action Plan established a framework of five strategic priority areas setting out Europe's agenda for entrepreneurship in the years to come. The Action Plan outlined a series of key actions related to five strategic areas. High on the agenda were fostering entrepreneurial mindsets among young people, reducing the stigma of failure, providing support for women and ethnic minorities, reducing the complexity of complying with tax laws and facilitating business transfers.

Successful completion of the first 2009 EU Gateway Business Mission to Japan renews strength of EU- Japan business cooperation
9 March 2009 Press Release

Imagination, Entrepreneurship and the EU
Each year the European Union spends billions of euros on an array of programmes with aims that include developing new technologies and encouraging Universities and business to work together.  However, such initiatives can seem often more akin to the Eurovision Song contest; part of the cultural fabric, but only rarely delivering a big hit.

Gender pay gap - EU campaign
Highly skilled and loyal employees are the most precious resource for a majority of small and medium-sized enterprises. This initiative aims to assist SMEs in Europe to increase their productivity and boost their competitiveness by breaking down the invisible barriers created by gender stereotypes, thereby maximizing the potential of their employees.

Commission proposal on major burden reduction for micro entities
The European Commission on 26 February put forward a new proposal which would allow EU Member States to completely abolish financial reporting obligations for the EU's smallest companies - Accounting in the Single Market website

Financial Reporting: burden reduction for micro-entities - briefing
The European Commission has put forward a new proposal which would allow EU Member States to completely abolish financial reporting obligations for the EU's smallest companies. In a deteriorating economic climate, the new rules are designed to alleviate the regulatory burden on micro entities. The aggregate administrative burden reduction potential is estimated at around EUR 6.3 billion. The proposal, which was flagged in the European Economic Recovery Plan in November 2008, now passes to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers for consideration.

Accounting rules and micro entities - when simplification becomes complication
The European Federation of Accountants and Auditors (EFAA), Europe's leading accountancy organisation dedicated solely to the needs of small and medium-sized businesses, criticised today's communication by the European Commission giving Member States the option to exempt micro entities from preparing and publishing annual accounts.