ESBA Secretary General Patrick Gibbels said: "We welcome the opportunity for today's dialogue as The SME test lies at the heart of the Better Regulation agenda. However, since the introduction of the test in the Small Business Act of 2008, we have not been satisfied with its overall implementation. It is also difficult to accept an assessment of the added value of the SME test when it is not yet fully implemented. ESBA calls for a stronger, standardised test accross Member States and an independent body to check the proper implementation and application of the SME-test. ESBA suggests for the European Commission to develop a toolkit that can be used by the Member States to improve the application of the SME test. Lastly, we urge national governments to fully take the results of the SME-test into consideration as ignoring them will lead to bad legislation for our small businesses."
Today (5 October), the European Commission, national governments and European business representatives met in Brussels to discuss the current state of the SME test, the test that should determine the effects of legislative proposals on small businesses. A presentation by the Belgian SME Envoy of a comprehensive study conducted accross Europe showed that the implementation of the test is still lacking significantly in key areas. A lack of resources often leads to a superficial application of the test, whilst some Member States choose to only do an SME test for proposals that are likely to have a high impact on SMEs or on an 'ad-hoc' basis - a vague term that leaves too much discretion as to whether to apply the test or not. The test is not standardised accross Member States, or even accross services within one Member State. The report furthermore attempts to assess the added value of the SME-test in each Member State. Perhaps the most worrying finding is that, in certain cases, where an SME test was properly applied, it is not taken into consideration when actually drafting the corresponding legislative proposal.