Volume IX, 6-2010
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Does the EU consider SMEs´ interests?

The 20 million SMEs in the EU represent 99% of all businesses, and are key drivers of economic growth, innovation and job creation.

In December 2008, heads of state and government from the EU‘s 27 member states endorsed the European Commission’s SME policy initiative, the Small Business Act for Europe (SBA). Its second anniversary gives us the opportunity to assess its implementation. The SBA proposes a strong self-commitment to respect the “Think Small First” principle, defines ten priority areas for better SME policy at European and national level and seven concrete European legislative proposals to improve the business environment for SMEs in Europe.

The ‘Think Small First’ principle requires that legislation takes SMEs‘ interests into account at the earliest stages of policy making in order to ensure that the outcome reflects smaller businesses’ needs. However, the ‘Think Small First’ principle largely remains ins a concept rather than a common practice.

The overall SBA implementation has been very slow so far. Member States have made barely any progress on the “Think Small First” principle and even less on the concrete measures linked to the SBA one year after it came into force. This was also clearly demonstrated in the latest “Think Small Test” and “SBA Implementation Scoreboard” surveys made by UEAPME. European institutions must concentrate on adopting the proposed measures in the SBA (European private company, revision of late payments directive, community patent, etc.) and on respecting SBA principles. SBA was adopted to help the SMEs to get out of the crisis. Two years later, some of the measures have still not been adopted or implemented. Moreover, after a long-lasting legislative procedure, some measures do not completely reflect the original idea.

Sometimes, the creativity of one of the two EU decisionmaking bodies can be more harmful than beneficial for SMEs. National governments also play their role here. However, they have no obligation to monitor or even evaluate SBA implementation. Key European business organizations, BUSINESSEUROPE, EUROCHA MBRES and UEAPME, agreed on the following point - implementation of the “Think Small First“ principle is crucial and should be openly addressed throughout the regulatory process at all levels: EU, national, regional and local.

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Other articles in this issue:

When will you buy an electric car?
European Parliament of Enterprises 2010
ENERGIZING EUROPE:3rd Czech Energy Day was a Success!