ESBA Responds to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s State of the Union Address, and the SME Relief Package
Brussels, 13 September 2023 — The European Small Business Alliance (ESBA) welcomes the pledge by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to appoint an EU SME Envoy by the end of the year. This is a promise that is long overdue and it is to be hoped that having a direct line of communication with the Commission President will finally place small and micro-businesses at the forefront of its agenda, marking a significant shift towards economic policies that are more inclusive of the backbone of the European economy.
Labour & skills shortages – diagnosis but no cure
“Commission President, von Der Layen, was correct in diagnosing the problem of labour and skills shortages, which is stopping many small businessefrom growing, but she failed to offer meaningful solutions. We need a Digital Skills passport for ICT-professionals to foster higher mobility throughEU-wide recognition, and we need a European Academy for Entrepreneurs to provide online support and access to training across Europe,” said Andrew Cave, ESBA Secretary General.
Assistance for AI Startups
“We warmly welcome plans to create an EU funding stream for emerging technologies like microelectronics, quantum computing, AI, biotech, and clean tech. Almost more significant is the announcement to allow AI startups to access Europe’s high-performance computers, positioning them to train their models responsibly. Europe’s future economy will be built by today’s start-ups, so measures like these are vitally important.”
Regulation on Late Payments (announced as part of the SME Relief Package, 12 Sept)
ESBA welcomes the Commission’s plans to get tough on late payers. “Only 30% of small businesses suffering from late payment take advantage of thecompensation due to them for fear of repe rcussions, but a 30-day limit, removing legal gaps, automating payments, and ushering in a stricterenforcement regime will go a long way to putting the system back on the side of small business.” Added Cave.
Head Office Tax System for SMEs (announced as part of the SME Relief Package, 12 Sept)
The Commission’s proposal for a Head Office Tax System for SMEs shows promise in reducing bureaucratic friction. “This initiative has the potential to be a game-changer for small businesses operating across multiple EU Member States. The streamlined tax compliance system will drastically cut administrative costs and limit the risks associated with double taxation. It’s a win-win for small businesses and the future prosperity of the SingleMarket,” said Cave.
Beyond Rhetoric: A Call for Concrete Actions
While the Commission’s statements are a step in the right direction, ESBA cautions that eloquent speeches and policy declarations alone won’t drive real-world economic growth. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the SME sector continues to navigate challenges that demand immediate and tangible solutions.
We urge the European Commission to continue converting its constructive dialogue into actionable steps. “In the world beyond the Strasbourg debating chamber, small businesses require not just warm words but decisive actions to revive, thrive, and contribute effectively to the European economy.”
State of the Union
SME Relief Package
For additional details or press inquiries, please contact:
Andrew Cave – Secretary General, ESBA
Tel: 0032 470 80 85 17
13th Sep 2023
Who are we?
The European Small Business Alliance (ESBA) is a respected, apolitical, and influential advocate for European entrepreneurs. We are the campaigning voice for the modern European entrepreneur.
Independent. Knowledgeable. Influential. Challenging. And Loud.
Who are our members?
ESBA campaigns on behalf of a million small businesses throughout Europe, all of whom (whether they are micros, self employed, traditional family businesses, or hi-tech startups), share one very important thing in common. They are all entrepreneurs.
What do they want?
Our members told us that they wanted an organisation that looks like them, thinks like them, talks like them, and that really understands them.
They wanted to see innovation and creativity in the way we approach our job of representing their interests.
They want someone to be a voice for them, to talk about their needs and their problems to the EU institutions.
They also want an organisation to represent them in a twenty-first century way, using twenty-first century techniques.
And finally, they said they would like to belong to a truly diverse membership, full of the young (not forgetting the young at heart), women entrepreneurs, those from minority ethnic cultures, the immigrant searching for a better life, the socially responsible environmentally conscious entrepreneur, the disabled, those who pursue modern lifestyles, and those who thirst to learn new ways to grow their business.
They told us. We listened.
What do we campaign for?
In order to improve the lives of all European entrepreneurs, ESBA regularly seeks the views of its membership and uses them to create the ‘ESBA Manifesto for Change‘. Then we campaign hard to convince government to make these changes.
Click here for more details.
What are the benefits of membership?
We offer the help, advice, information and support that our members seek, with services based on listening to their needs and concerns. We campaign on behalf of our members using our unique ‘Manifesto for Change’, a policy stance that they help design.
But the biggest benefit our members enjoy is that we provide them with a voice where it matters, in Brussels.
An independent voice.
A voice for change.