On 30 March 2017, ESBA was invited to take part in the regular SME Envoy meeting, this time in Zagreb, Croatia. The SME Envoy Network regroups SME Envoys from every Member State as well as European Business Associations, the network’s goal is to promote SME friendly regulation and policy-making in the European Union. On the agenda of the meeting were the Start-up and Scale up initiative as well as the new services package. The start-up and scale-up initiative was warmly welcomed by SME Envoys, who recognised the many obstacles European start-ups face in comparison to their American counter-parts. ESBA and other business associations present also welcomed the initiative whilst reminding the assembly that traditional SMEs ought not to be forgotten for the sole benefit of highly innovative businesses, creating a two-tier SME definition. Access to finance, insolvency, better regulation and second chances for entrepreneurs are issues that are important for every European SME, addressing those would help creating a fertile breeding ground in which start-ups can flourish.
The second point on the agenda, the services package, was also welcomed by business associations. The package has the potential to reduce the burdens SMEs in the services sectors face, whilst easing the process of trading cross-border with the Services E-Card. Contrary to the scale-up and start-up initiative, the services package was a dividing subject amongst the SME Envoys. Fears of the European Commission meddling in Member States’ legislative processes and worries that the E-Card could be used to circumvent the Posted Workers Directive could threaten the services package as a whole. The SME Envoys network will reconvene on 22-23 June 2017 in Lisbon.