From The President
Welcome to the website of the European Small Business Alliance! Founded in 1998, the European Small Business Alliance (ESBA) is a non-party political group which represents small businesses and the self-employed at EU level. ESBA develops targeted lobby activities for member business groups. It is one of the largest organisations based on voluntary membership in Europe. Through its direct membership, associate membership and cooperation agreements, ESBA represents more than one million small businesses in 36 European countries.
I am the Managing Director of an automotive supply chain manufacturing business based in the UK. I started my company in 1977 and employ 23 people. For 16 years I have been a member of the UK's Federation of Small Businesses, and I served as Chairman of the FSB's Energy & Environment Policy Unit for the last three years. The FSB is proud to be a founding member of ESBA and I have been on the Board since 2010. In June 2012 I was honoured to be elected to the challenging post of President of the Alliance.
Many laws affecting the running of our businesses originate in Brussels. Small businesses face a plethora of EU rules on health and safety, employment, the environment, and the Single Market, this is why ESBA is based here in Brussels, the centre of EU law making. ESBA lobbies the EU institutions, doing everything possible to make sure that European legislation is not damaging small businesses, and to ensure that the small business perspective has been taken into account before proposals are signed into law.
European policy makers are relying far more on the expert input of real small businesses. With a civil service that is no bigger than that of a large European city, it would be impossible for the European Commission to propose legislation without sector-specific input. Therefore, associations that are the voice of small businesses are an essential part of the decision-making process. The European Parliament also relies on external expertise. MEPs need to legislate on sectors and topics, which they are not necessarily familiar with.
The crisis in 2008, that resulted in a sharp decrease in small business lending from the banks, has made painfully clear how much the European economy relies on its small businesses. The vast majority (99.8%) of European businesses are SMEs, and 91% of businesses are in fact micro-companies with less than ten employees. The EU is now looking to its smallest businesses as the lifeblood and drivers of the European economy. A shift in focus is taking place and SMEs are much more considered when legislation is being drafted. There is now more awareness that regulation should help and not hinder an environment in which small businesses can grow, create employment, innovate and compete. However, the important goal of smart regulation is far from being fully achieved. Therefore, SMEs must join their efforts and make their voice heard in Europe. We welcome you to join our alliance!