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SMEs in the EU

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

SME TechWeb
This European Commission website provides information and resources for technology - oriented companies with fewer than 250 employees (small and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs) - especially those wishing to innovate and internationalise. It is of particular value to those who want to apply for research funding through the new measures of the European Union's Sixth Research and Technological Development Framework Programme (FP6).

Euro Info Centres
Euro Info Centres or EICs inform, advise, and assist businesses on Community issues. They also provide feedback to the European Commission about community matters affecting SMEs. EICs are well integrated in the local and regional business environment, while their teams are familiar with European practices. EICs are in constant contact with the European Commission and get access to a business support network comprising of more than 300 centres across more than 45 countries.

VAT in the European Community
The country-specific documents on this European Commission page contain basic information on the application of VAT in the Member States for the use by administrations, business, information networks, etc.

VAT Invoicing Rules in the EU
The European Council adopted on 20 December 2001 a Directive (2001/115/EC) on VAT Invoicing. This Directive, which amends the 6th VAT Directive, had to be implemented into national Law before 1 January 2004. The Commission says this measure will be of significant practical benefit to firms operating within the Internal Market because it will ensure that they have only to deal with a single, simplified set of rules on invoicing valid throughout the EU instead of fifteen different sets of legislation. At the same time, the Directive requires Member States to recognise the validity of electronic invoices and allow cross-border electronic invoicing and electronic storage.

The EU's Lisbon strategy - Growth and Jobs
The Lisbon Strategy is a commitment to bring about economic, social and environmental renewal in the EU. In March 2000, the European Council in Lisbon set out a ten-year strategy to make the EU the world's most dynamic and competitive economy. Under the strategy, a stronger economy will drive job creation alongside social and environmental policies that ensure sustainable development and social inclusion.

Bankruptcy - Restructuring, bankruptcy and a fresh start
Entrepreneurship can trigger the creation of wealth and employment and within the EU entrepreneurial activity should be encouraged. Many in the EU feel that there is a stigma on failure, which works as deterrent to entrepreneurial initiative. This climate is contrasted with the climate in the US where business failure is in certain business communities considered as a learning experience. This report, prepared for the European Commission in November 2003, assesses national bankruptcy laws in the EU member states and the extent to which these act as a deterrent to business survival and a fresh start, as well as the effects of social stigma on the potential of entrepreneurs who have try but fail to try again.

Your Europe - Business
Your Europe provides businesses with practical information and advice to help them carry out their business in another country within the European Union. You can find information on registration of companies, public procurement, taxes, business directories, various funding opportunities or employment laws.

SME User Guide explaining the new SME definition
In May 2003 the European Commission adopted a new Recommendation regarding the SME definition to come into force 1 January 2005. The revision increases legal certainty, while reducing possibilities of its abuse, particularly with regard to state aid, Structural Funds and the Research and Development Framework Programme. This Recommendation concerns all Community policies applied within the European Economic Area in favour of SMEs. It will be adopted in a number of Community acts and programmes and integrated in the field of state aids where SMEs can benefit from exemption provisions including aid for R&D and vocational training.

SOLVIT
SOLVIT is an on-line problem solving network in which EU Member States work together to solve without legal proceedings problems caused by the misapplication of Internal Market law by public authorities. There is a SOLVIT centre in every European Union Member State (as well as in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). SOLVIT Centres can help with handling complaints from both citizens and businesses. They are part of the national administration and are committed to providing real solutions to problems within ten weeks. Using SOLVIT is free of charge. SOLVIT has been working since July 2002. The European Commission coordinates the network, which is operated by the Member States, the European Commission provides the database facilities and, when needed, helps to speed up the resolution of problems. The Commission also passes formal complaints it receives on to SOLVIT if there is a good chance that the problem can be solved without legal action.

Draft Directive on Services in the EU internal market
The objective of the Services proposal is to achieve a genuine Internal Market in services by removing legal and administrative barriers to the development of service activities between Member States. The proposed Directive would guarantee service providers more legal certainty if they want to exercise two fundamental freedoms (freedom of establishment and freedom to provide services) enshrined in the EC Treaty. This would make it easier for businesses to provide and use cross-border services in the EU, thus increasing cross-border competition in service markets, bringing down prices and improving quality and choice for consumers. The Directive will also strengthen the rights of users of services, for instance by enshrining the right of non-discrimination.

CIP – Innovation and entrepreneurship, ICT and intelligent energy
CIP is a programme for SMEs bringing together several existing EU activities that support competitiveness and innovation The new CIP programme has a budget of EUR 3.621 billion, from 2007-2013. On an annual basis this represents an increase of 60% compared to 2006 under the various equivalent predecessor programmes. It is estimated, that more than 350.000 enterprises will benefit from the new Financial Instruments under CIP.

European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net)
If you have a problem with a product you bought in another European country; if you want to check on your rights and what you are entitled to as a European consumer; if you have a complaint against a company or you are in a dispute with a trader - the network of European Consumer Centres is there to help with such questions and any other problems you may have concerning your activities as a consumer in Europe. The aim being that you should feel as confident when shopping in another country as you do at home.

Anti-dumping in the EU: the basics
Dumping is the sale of a product for export at less than its normal value (i.e.: profitable domestic sales prices or cost of manufacture plus a small allowance for selling, general and administrative costs and profit margin) in the market where it is produced.

Services directive - EP text
European Parliament legislative resolution on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on services in the internal market (COM(2004)0002 – C5-0069/2004 – 2004/0001(COD)) - text adopted 16 February 2006

Review of EU Timeshare Directive
Timeshare, within the meaning of the European Union Timeshare Directive, is the right to spend a period of time (e.g. one or more weeks) in a holiday property for a specified or specifiable period of the year for three years or longer.

European Year for Workers' Mobility
2006 has been designated the European Year for Workers’ Mobility. On this site you can find out more about activities and events carried out in the framework of the Year, and access a wealth of information on workers' mobility. It aims to open up the debate on the real benefits and challenges of working abroad or changing job.