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SMEs Guides

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Guides on the EU Enterprise policy for small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Innovation Union Scoreboard 2014 by EUbusiness — last modified 04 March 2014, 17:41 CET
Europe is closing its innovation gap with the United States and Japan but differences in performance between EU Member States are still high and diminishing only slowly. At a regional level, the innovation gap is widening, with the innovation performance having worsened in almost one fifth of EU regions. These are the main results of the European Commission's Innovation Union Scoreboard 2014 and the Regional Innovation Scoreboard 2014. The overall ranking within the EU remains relatively stable, with Sweden at the top, followed by Denmark, Germany and Finland – the four countries that invest most in research and innovation. The countries whose position has improved the most are Portugal, Estonia and Latvia. Overall progress has been driven by the openness and attractiveness of the EU research system as well as business innovation collaboration and the commercialisation of knowledge as measured by licence and patent revenues from abroad. However, growth in public R&D expenditure was offset by a decline in venture capital investment and non-R&D innovation investment in companies.
New tourism quality principles by EUbusiness — last modified 20 February 2014, 13:37 CET
The European Commission proposed on 20 February a set of voluntary European Tourism Quality Principles to ensure that tourists travelling to other EU Member States or visiting our continent from third countries will get value for their money. These principles cover four main areas: staff training under the supervision of a quality coordinator, consumer satisfaction to ensure that tourist can rely on handling of their complaints, cleanliness and maintenance, and correctness and reliability of information in at least the most relevant foreign language. Such access to reliable and up-to-date information on the quality of tourism services enables tourists to differentiate among competing products, to make an informed choice and to overcome linguistic difficulties. Small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) will find it easier to emphasize that they are providing a high quality service by sticking to the principles. The proposal will therefore help SMEs which make up over 90% of the EU tourism sector.
Challenges and opportunities of EU re-industrialisation: 2013 EU industrial structure report by EUbusiness — last modified 17 February 2014, 22:09 CET
According to a European Commission report published today on the current status of EU industry, most sectors have still not regained their pre-crisis level of output and significant differences exist between sectors and Member States. The "EU industrial structure report 2013: Competing in Global Value Chains" sheds more light on the downward trend in manufacturing. Also highlighted are the mutually beneficial links between manufacturing and services as well as the importance of global value chains. The report ultimately underlines the growing need to mainstream industrial competitiveness into other policy fields. These issues, recently highlighted by the Commission's Communication on a European Industrial Renaissance, will be directly addressed at the forthcoming Competitiveness Council meeting on 20-21 February.
Commission calls for European Industrial Renaissance by EUbusiness — last modified 22 January 2014, 18:54 CET
The European Commission is urging EU Member States to recognise the central importance of industry for creating jobs and growth, and of main-streaming industry-related competitiveness concerns across all policy areas. This is the key message of the communication 'For a European Industrial Renaissance', adopted on 22 January.
Revision of Public Procurement Directives by EUbusiness — last modified 15 January 2014, 19:56 CET
New EU rules on public procurement and concession contracts approved by the European Parliament on 15 January 2014 are expected to ensure better quality and value for money when public authorities buy or lease works, goods or services.
New rules for risk finance by EUbusiness — last modified 15 January 2014, 20:48 CET
The European Commission has adopted new guidelines setting out the conditions under which Member States can grant aid to facilitate access to finance by European SMEs and companies with a medium capitalization (the so-called "midcaps"). Certain SMEs and midcaps, in particular innovative and growth-oriented SMEs in their early development stages, have difficulties to get funding, independently of the quality of their business potential. State aid can help address this funding gap, not by replacing existing funding channels but by attracting fresh money into new ventures through well-designed financial instruments and fiscal measures. These guidelines are part of the Commission's State Aid Modernisation (SAM) strategy, which aims at fostering growth in the Single Market by encouraging more effective aid measures and focusing the Commission's scrutiny on cases with the biggest impact on competition. The guidelines will enter into force on 1 July 2014.
European SMEs getting greener - Eurobarometer no 381 by EUbusiness — last modified 18 December 2013, 19:01 CET
Compared to last year, European SMEs are becoming more resource efficient and are contributing substantially to the transition towards a low-carbon economy, according to the results of the 2013 Eurobarometer survey on "SMEs, resource efficiency and green markets" published today. For example, the survey shows that 42% of EU SMEs now have at least one full or part-time green employee - a 5% increase from 2012 which exceeds the expectations set by businesses almost two years ago.
Protection against unlawful acquisition of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) by EUbusiness — last modified 28 November 2013, 23:48 CET
The European Commission has today proposed new rules on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure. The draft directive introduces a common definition of trade secrets, as well as means through which victims of trade secret misappropriation can obtain redress. It will make it easier for national courts to deal with the misappropriation of confidential business information, to remove the trade secret infringing products from the market and make it easier for victims to receive damages for illegal actions.
COSME - new programme to foster the competitiveness of SMEs by EUbusiness — last modified 21 November 2013, 23:17 CET
The European Parliament today adopted the COSME programme, a new programme for the competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). COSME aims to ease the access to credit problems that small businesses currently face. With a EUR 2.3 billion-budget over the period 2014-2020, the Programme for the Competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME) will for instance provide a guarantee facility for loans to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) of up to EUR 150,000. From now until 2020, 330,000 EU firms are expected to benefit from this facility. In addition, COSME will assist businesses and citizens in the following ways: 1) entrepreneurs will benefit from easier access to markets in the EU and beyond, 2) citizens who wish to become self-employed but currently face difficulties in setting up or developing their own business will receive tailored services and assistance, and 3) Member States' authorities will be better assisted in their efforts to elaborate and implement effective SME related policy reform.
REFIT - Fit for growth - making EU law lighter by EUbusiness — last modified 03 October 2013, 22:55 CET
Red tape is often accused of stifling businesses, especially the smallest ones, and of interfering too much in people's daily lives. With 74% of Europeans believing that the EU generates too much law, a European Commission Communication takes another step in ensuring that EU legislation is fit for purpose. In the Communication, the Commission sets out in a practical way, policy area by policy area, where it will take further action to simplify or withdraw EU laws, ease the burden on businesses and facilitate implementation. The Commission has also announced its intention to publish a scoreboard to track progress at European and national level in this regard.
High Level Group on Administrative Burdens by EUbusiness — last modified 20 September 2013, 13:59 CET
The High Level Group on Administrative Burdens advises the Commission on the administrative burdens placed on businesses, in particular small businesses. It concentrates on how to simplify existing EU legislation and make national public administrations more efficient and responsive to the needs of companies – particularly smaller ones – when implementing EU legislation. The Commission's initiative for the reduction of administrative burdens by 25% between 2007 and 2012 was supported by the High Level Group. It is expected, in the medium term, to lead to an increase of 1.4% in EU GDP, equivalent to €150 billion.
E-invoicing in public procurement by EUbusiness — last modified 27 June 2013, 13:56 CET
The European Commission has today proposed a draft directive on e-invoicing in public procurement, accompanied by a communication setting out its vision for the full digitisation of the public procurement process, so-called 'end-to-end e-procurement'. E-invoicing is an important step towards paperless public administration (e-government) in Europe – one of the priorities of the Digital Agenda - and offers the potential for significant economic as well as environmental benefits. The Commission estimates that the adoption of e-invoicing in public procurement across the EU could generate savings of up to €2.3 billion.
Financial reporting obligations for limited liability companies (Accounting Directive) by EUbusiness — last modified 13 June 2013, 13:16 CET
The European Parliament on 12 June voted in new Accounting and Transparency Directives, a modernisation of financial reporting obligations, which should see costs reduced, in particular for SMEs.
Access to finance for SMEs by EUbusiness — last modified 02 May 2013, 17:57 CET
A joint European Commission - European Investment Bank Group report on the activities facilitating access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in 2012 was presented at a meeting of the SME Finance Forum, on the eve of an Informal Competitiveness Council on 2 and 3 May in Dublin. European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Enterprise and Industrial policy, also launched a new single online portal for all EU financial instruments for SMEs as well a web-based information guide for SME stock listings, to promote SME listings and stimulate investors’ interest in SMEs and mid-caps.
EC moves to cut legal red tape by EUbusiness — last modified 24 April 2013, 18:28 CET
The European Commission is proposing to slash red tape for citizens and businesses by doing away with bureaucratic rubber-stamping exercises which are currently required to get public documents, such as your birth certificate, recognised as authentic in another EU Member State. Currently, citizens who move to another Member State have to spend a lot of time and money in order to demonstrate that their public documents (such as birth or marriage certificates) issued by their Member State of origin are authentic. This involves the so-called 'Apostille' certificate which is used by public authorities in other states as proof that public documents, or the signatures of national officials on documents, are genuine. Businesses operating across EU borders in the EU’s Single Market are also affected. For instance, they will often be required to produce a number of certified public documents in order to prove their legal status when operating cross-border. These requirements date from an era when countries would only trust a public document if it came from the foreign office of another country. However, just as we trust in each other's court judgements, we should be able to trust a Member State's Registry Office issuing birth certificates, without needing their foreign office, justice ministry, or other authorities to vouch for them. Today, the European Commission is therefore proposing to scrap the 'Apostille' stamp and a further series of arcane administrative requirements for certifying public documents for people living and working in other Member States.
Disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large companies and groups (proposal to amend Accounting Directives) by EUbusiness — last modified 16 April 2013, 17:17 CET
The European Commission has proposed an amendment to existing accounting legislation in order to improve the transparency of certain large companies on social and environmental matters. Companies concerned will need to disclose information on policies, risks and results as regards environmental matters, social and employee-related aspects, respect for human rights, anti-corruption and bribery issues, and diversity on the boards of directors.
Simpler accounting requirements for small companies by EUbusiness — last modified 10 April 2013, 00:17 CET
The European Parliament and Council of the EU have agreed new, simpler accounting requirements for the preparation of financial information. It is hoped this will result in a reduction in the administrative burden for small companies (SMEs).
Modernisation of the European Trade Mark System by EUbusiness — last modified 27 March 2013, 15:42 CET
The European Commission has presented a package of initiatives to make trade mark registration systems all over the European Union cheaper, quicker, more reliable and predictable. The proposed reform would improve conditions for businesses to innovate and to benefit from more effective trade mark protection against counterfeits, including fake goods in transit through the EU's territory.
Late Payments Directive by EUbusiness — last modified 12 March 2013, 14:21 CET
By 16 March 2013 EU Member States will need to have integrated the revised Late Payments Directive into their national law. It obliges public authorities to pay for goods and services within 30 calendar days or, in very exceptional circumstances, within 60 days. Businesses should pay their invoices within 60 calendar days, unless they expressly agree otherwise and if it is not grossly unfair to the creditor.
Ten most burdensome EU laws for SMEs by EUbusiness — last modified 07 March 2013, 17:03 CET
In a broad consultation initiated by the European Commission, around 1,000 small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and business organisations have now identified the top 10 most burdensome EU laws. The purpose of this broad consultation was to check where EU regulation might be impeding jobs and growth and to identify areas or issues which would require further examination and action where necessary.