This morning, the European Parliament's Greens debated the proposed General Data Protection Regulation.
Whether as data controllers, processors or subjects, both consumers and SMEs stand to gain from a solid and harmonised legal framework for data protection in the EU. A clear Regulation would provide the legal certainty needed to spur investment, innovation and growth.
These advantages would be mooted, however, if the new clarity is accompanied by excessive administrative burdens. The discussions around the dossier have turned into a brawl between Brussels and Silicon Valley, with Europe's small businesses getting caught in the crossfire. The Data Protection Regulation is a prime example of a dossier where a one-size-fits-all approach will be absolutely detrimental. Whereas the need for a stricter data regime is defendable for certain sectors, where data processing is a core activity, it certainly is not for the bulk of EU micro- and small businesses. Should the butcher down the street really be made to hire or train a data protection officer? Do small businesses need to spend their already scarce resources on conducting expensive data protection impact assessments? ESBA calls for a careful and risk-based approach, avoiding additional administrative and regulatory burdens where possible.
Europe's traditional small businesses are the drivers of economic recovery, and our innovative start-ups are the main source of technology that will make our economy sustainable. The EU cannot afford to use these businesses as pawns in a political game.
Please let us not forget about the Think Small First principle, one of the cornerstones of EU decision-making.
- ENDS -
Notes to editor
European Small Business Alliance (ESBA)
Founded in 1998 by eight independent national small business associations, The European Small Business Alliance (ESBA) is a non-party political group, which cares for small business entrepreneurs and the self-employed and represents them through targeted EU advocacy and profiling activities. ESBA also works towards the development of strong independent advocacy and benefits groups in European countries. ESBA's new website, which provides an innovative approach to communication amongst business organizations, reflects these three main fields of activity.
Today, ESBA is one of the largest organisations based on voluntary membership in Europe. Through its direct membership, associate membership and cooperation agreements, the Alliance now represents over one million small businesses and covers 36 European countries. Increased support and recognition, internally and externally, however will only be achieved through tangible results. Through implementation of its 'Vision 2020' and the corresponding business plan, this is what ESBA is constantly striving to achieve on behalf of its members and SMEs in Europe.
EU Small Business Profile:
- 99.8 per cent of all EU companies are SMEs
- 92.2 per cent are micro businesses
- 6.5 per cent are small businesses
- 1.1 per cent are medium-sized businesses
- 0.2 per cent are large businesses
- SMEs provide 67.4 per cent of all private sector jobs
Source: Annual Report on small and medium-sized enterprises in the EU 2011/2012. Report by Ecorys Macro & Sector Policies at the request of the European Commission, 2012
Challenges for Small Businesses in Europe:
- Administrative and regulatory burdens
- Access to finance
- Lack of skills
- Access to public procurement contracts
- Unfair/too strong competition
- Labour law
- Access to Single Market
- Access to EU programmes
- Late payments
- Access to international markets
- Access to information and advice
- Instability of world economy/ energy costs
- SME definition