For several years now, the European Commission has been discussing the need to adopt more or less unified rules governing the activities of SMEs. True, so far without any practical results, however, we are talking about an extremely important area of European economic integration.
Suffice it to say that about 23 million of the most active SMEs in the EU create more than half of the GNP in the EU-27. And now, as if “ice has broken”: all interested are invited to participate in a discussion of the content of the future law. The official debate ceremony is scheduled for February 6, and the final draft law will be submitted to countries for approval this June.
SMEs are the foundation of European development
In fact, the importance of SMEs has never been denied by EU politicians. However, only in 2005 this direction became an important part of the general plan for stimulating employment and economic development (the so-called Lisbon Strategy 2000-2010). An analysis of the state of affairs in the period 2005-2007 showed that the EU countries did much to triumph in the principle of “think about the small”, which was proclaimed in the medium-term plan for the development of SMEs in 2007 (Mid-term Review on the Implementation of the Modern SME Policy, COM (2007) 592 final, 4/10/2007).
The Commission noted significant progress in reducing the bureaucratic obstacles in the work of SMEs (for example, there was only one authority for registering SMEs) and increased subsidies for their development in the new budget for 2007-2013. However, the commission believes that not all potentials for the development of SMEs are fully developed in the EU countries. It is these considerations that formed the basis of the new plan for creating a single law on SMEs throughout the EU.
European SME Law
SME development efforts have always been the focus of the European Commission. This is entirely justified, since approximately 23 million of these most active companies create more than half of the “union” GNP. In this regard, on January 31 of this year, the European Commission began the stage of public consultations on the draft Law for Small Companies (Information message – IP / 08/165, Brussels, 1 st February 2008). The main goal of the law is to put SMEs at the center of all decisions taken at the EU level and to ensure maximum conditions for their development.
It is expected that as a result of intensive discussions (they will officially begin on February 6 and last until March), conditions will be created to reduce administrative barriers, more active participation of SMEs in public-private contracts, provide financial assistance and ensure survival in times of globalization and climate change.
Obviously, such tasks have become not only the main element of the LSC, but also an important part of the European Commission’s strategy for economic development and employment. Commenting on the start of the public discussion, Günter Verheugen, European Commission Vice President responsible for the EU business and industry sector, noted that today no one doubts the important role of SMEs in the economic development of the region. However, we must fully disclose all the possibilities of SMEs, he said. And he added – it is important that we take into account all the problems that stand in the way of the development of SMEs, so we must take into account all the comments and considerations from as many people as possible.
The preliminary document on the LSC submitted for discussion contains six main problem blocks:
improved legislation on SMEs;
giving them a higher status in society;
providing access to modern markets;
improving the financial aspects of SMEs, training and innovation;
optimal consideration of environmental requirements;
actively implementing the EU SME policy.
On them will be held discussions and discussions. It is expected that the discussions will end in March, and by June a panel of experts should prepare a draft taking into account the most important comments and additions. Then the draft will be considered by the European Parliament and agreed with the countries before it becomes the subject of a vote in the Council of Ministers and then – the law for the entire EU-27. Given the summer months, the time for discussion and adoption of such an important law is clearly not enough.