This morning, the European Parliament in Plenary Session adopted by overwhelming majority the final version of the Directive on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and of the Regulation on Online Dispute Resolution (ODR). The Directive on ADR obliges the Member States to guarantee that consumers can seek redress by means of out-of-court settlement schemes.
This should be at low cost for the consumer and the procedure should not take more than 90 days. The Regulation on ODR mandates the European Commission to establish an online platform - accessed through the web portal 'Your Europe' - where consumers can easily identify which ADR schemes is applicable to the dispute they have with a trader. Traders will be required to make available on their website, a link to the ODR platform. The ADR schemes need to be in place 24 months after the publication of the Directive in the Official Journal of the EU. The ODR platform should be fully operational by the end of 2015.
ESBA President David Caro said:
''ESBA has long advocated the development of simpler procedures in the settlement of disputes at EU level and warmly welcomes the adoption of the ADR/ODR initiatives by the European Parliament and the Council. From a business perspective, the initiatives have the potential to lead to a reduction of judicial proceedings as well as increased cost-efficiency for SMEs. Moreover, the ADR scheme can prove to be an effective tool to maintain business reputation and to preserve consumer trust. The initiatives could thereby give small business the confidence to conduct cross-border transactions.
ESBA regrets the deletion of the possibility for traders to make use of the ADR instrument to start a procedure against the consumer, as this offsets the balance of the instrument. As we all recognise the potential of the schemes adopted today, ESBA advises the European Commission to explore the possibility of an ADR instrument for business to business disputes.''
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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