Institutions see the need to diversify within the SME spectrum
November 30 2011
On 23 November 2011 the European Commission published a report on minimising regulatory burden for SMEs and adapting EU regulation to the needs of micro-enterprises. The report includes a list of initiatives already taken as well an examination on a case-by-case basis as to whether small companies should be exempted (partially or temporary) or given a lighter regulatory regime in the future.
The report is a result of commitments by both European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Vice-President Antonio Tajani to ''promote the best possible conditions for growth and job creation''. Both stress that micro-businesses are the most important growth engine for the EU but at the same time form the most vulnerable group of businesses. Barroso stressed that complying with regulation can be ten times more expensive for micro-businesses than for large companies. Concrete measures to be taken include a 'reversed burden of proof', where the need to regulate micro-businesses must be proven before adding additional regulatory burden. Furthermore, a new micro-enterprise dimension will be added to the SME test and a scoreboard for the ''think small first'' principle will be created to ensure proper implementation of micro-business related EU legislation in the Member States.
ESBA has been advocating very actively the importance of making a distinction between micro-businesses and larger SMEs when regulating Small and Medium Enterprises and warmly welcomes the Commission's report. Although exemptions are far from ideal and should by no means become rule, they can be useful and are often necessary crisis measures for alleviating some of the regulatory burden off our smallest companies, enabling them to grow and create jobs. More importantly, ESBA is very happy to see concrete developments towards improved implementation of the Think Small First principle. A perfect implementation of this principle would render the need for exemptions obsolete, as micro-businesses would be taken as a vantage point when considering new legislation. However, as long as this is not the case, exemptions and lighter regimes are valid short-term solutions.
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