Eurada News nº395 – December 2019

European SME Strategy

Following the announcement of President von der Leyen, a new SME strategy will be enacted to ensure an efficient regulation for small and medium enterprises, reducing red tape and improving their access to market.

The European Commission is finalising the industrial and SME strategies for the College of Commissioners meeting on 4th of March 2020. These strategies will be conducted by the Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager (Digital Age) and Vice-President Dombrovskis (Economy). 

Both strategies will be the direct responsibility of Commissioner Thierry Breton (Internal Market) who indicated during his audience in the European Parliament that: “It will be a priority for me to contribute to the new SME strategy and new industrial strategy announced by the President-elect. Both will fully integrate our objective to be the first climate neutral continent by 2050 and support the circular economy”. 

Commissioner Breton considers mandatory to tackle the challenges that SMEs face, from administrative burden to future foreseen necessities for skilled workers. He indicated that “SMEs should be at the heart of our industrial strategy, as well as of our efforts to enhance the Single Market and drive Europe’s transition towards sustainability, digitalisation and innovation”. 

The Commission is probably going to propose this SME strategy as an initiative for strengthening the Small Business Act (SBA). It provides a comprehensive SME policy framework, promotes entrepreneurship and anchors the “Think Small First” principle in law and policy making to strengthen SMEs’ competitiveness. The SBA is based on ten key principles –mainly focused on education and training, regulatory framework, bankruptcy procedures, support services, finance, internationalisation and green economy– and a number of concrete actions fully endorsed by the European Council in December 2008. Creating a business-friendly environment for all enterprises, especially SMEs and new entrepreneurs seems to be a key goal for Commissioner Breton. Following his statements to the European Parliament, the main aspect of the future SME strategy will be: 

  1. Improving SMEs’ access to finance: the strategy will include the establishment of a single-entry point for all enquiries on EU financing opportunities, facilitate the use of Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) with the involvement of the InvestEU programme and the enforcement of the late payment directive 
  2. Helping them tap opportunities in the new digital and sustainable economy: there will be a stronger use of the existing Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), the biggest SME support network in the world, linking over 600 local, regional and national organisations across Europe. Commissioner Breton will set up dedicated ‘Sustainability Advisors’ within the Enterprise Europe Network and look at making it easier for SMEs to access finance to invest in sustainability. There will be actions aimed to facilitate the use of intellectual Property Rights, dedicated actions for skills and public procurement. The European Digital Innovation Hubs  will be reinforced to enable SMEs to benefit from advice and to test digital innovations. The European Commission will continue with its Start-up Initiative and Startup Europe programme, looking for an easier EU-wide company formation system, access to high tech workers from within and outside the EU (employment visa). To facilitate the scaling-up of existing companies, new initiatives such as the new Deep Tech Europe 100 initiative could help 100 deep-tech high growth businesses to spread out worldwide
  3. Reducing the regulatory burdens that SMEs face: Commissioner Breton is going to nominate an SME Envoy. The main role will be to strengthen impact assessments on the effect of major legislative amendments on SMEs. Through this SME Envoy network, the European Commission will work with Member States to establish common priorities in areas where regulatory competence is mixed. There will be special provisions to assure that Single Market rules consider SMEs’ specific needs, that the Digital Services Act gives SMEs and start-ups the predictability and legal clarity that they need. 

It is expected a draft of the strategy during the first quarter of the year 2020, around March, based on the discussion that took place during the SME Assembly 2019 (Helsinki, 25-27 November). Important drivers of the strategy would be sustainability, digital transformation and regional broad-based growth.

More information

Written by Esteban Pelayo, Director of EURADA