In June 2008 the European Commission adopted the Small Business Act. It recognizes the importance of creating a SME-friendlier business environment. Indeed, EU SMEs have a lower productivity and a reduced growth compared to their counterparts in the US. 21% of SMEs consider that accessing finance is a problem and the situation is even worse if you consider only microenterprises.
Consequently, ten principles were detailed in the Small Business Act to be put into practice:
- Create an environment in which entrepreneurs and family businesses can thrive and entrepreneurship is rewarded
- Ensure that honest entrepreneurs who have faced bankruptcy quickly get a second chance
- Design rules according to the “Think Small First” principle
- Make public administrations responsive to SMEs’ needs
- Adapt public policy tools to SME needs: facilitate SMEs’ participation in public procurement and better use State Aid possibilities for SMEs
- Facilitate SMEs’ access to finance and develop a legal and business environment supportive to timely payments in commercial transactions
- Help SMEs to benefit more from the opportunities offered by the Single Market
- Promote the upgrading of skills in SMEs and all forms of innovation
- Enable SMEs to turn environmental challenges into opportunities
- Encourage and support SMEs to benefit from the growth of markets
Measures were to be taken by the European Commission but also by Member States.
The Review of the SBA is an evaluation of the degree of implementation of the SBA.
The results of this evaluation provide comprehensive elements for future policy actions aimed at supporting and reinforcing tailor-made support services for micro, small and sole proprietor businesses.
Although most measures were effectively implemented by the European Commission, new actions should be considered to improve SMEs’ environment according to the review. The Review of the SBA proposes a set of new actions in the following area:
- making smart regulation a reality for European SMEs,
- paying specific attention to SMEs’ financing needs,
- taking a broad-based approach to enhancing market access for SMEs,
- helping SMEs to contribute to a resource-efficient economy, and
- promoting entrepreneurship, job creation and inclusive growth.
Visit the EU webpage dedicated to this issue here and read country reports (including Austria, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Netherlands, Finland, Norway, France, Portugal, Germany, Spain, Greece, Sweden, Ireland, and United Kingdom) all written in English and in the national language for every country.