The revised SBA for Europe marks a decisive new stage in the political recognition of SMEs and above all of micro-enterprises. This EESC opinion recommends that the European institutions, Member States and the regions adopt it as the basis for their SMEs policies as well as for their economic and industrial policies. It insists on recognising the SBA's "Think Small First" principle when drafting legislation for SMEs. The EESC notes that the SBA will not succeed unless a genuine "multi-stakeholder and multilevel governance partnership" is established where economic and social partners and all representative public and private stakeholders are involved in political discussions concerning SMEs.
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The own-initiative opinion will focus on the impact of the TTIP on SMEs and reflect on the provisions that would need to be included in the TTIP in order to take account of the specific character of SMEs in the negotiations and implementation of an eventual EU-US agreement. The opinion will also look at how to increase the awareness of SMEs as to existing support services and programmes, and particularly about the new business opportunities that may arise with this agreement.
The EESC welcomes the package on the modernisation of VAT on cross-border e-commerce, and endorses both its objectives and its focus on addressing the concerns of SMEs. The Committee welcomes the proposed extension of the MOSS to goods as it creates conditions for the possible removal of the Low Value Consignment Relief (LVCR) scheme. Furthermore, the amendments to the VAT rates applicable to e-publications rules would eliminate the distinction between physical and non-physical publications, and ensure neutrality in this market.
A number of topical industrial developments and trends are currently at the focus of attention. At the same time it should be recognised that people must live everywhere in Europe, including in many regions that these innovative trends are not likely to reach even in the next 50 years. Without undermining their importance and while supporting the political efforts promoting these trends, it is necessary to recall that these businesses are the key element in the creation of new activity and value in resource-constrained areas and are crucial to enhancing economic prosperity and cohesion across Europe. Against this background, the main objective of the opinion is to identify and analyse the particular challenges these businesses face and find solutions and possibilities to support them.
With this opinion the EESC welcomes the Commission's proposals in principle as a balanced compromise between the objectives of climate-neutral mobility, the innovation capacity of the European automotive industry and preserving quality jobs. In particular, the EESC considers the planned interim target for 2025 of a 15% reduction in emissions compared to 2021 to be very demanding as the required changes are to be made to combustion engines at the cutting edge of technology. Despite this, the EESC views the market development towards zero-emission vehicles and low-emissions vehicles and hybrids as an opportunity. Furthermore the EESC calls for a mid-term review for 2024 to include the state of play regarding the qualification and (re)training of staff as well as an updated analysis of the areas in which (additional) action is required.
The EESC welcomes the "Action Plan on VAT", and calls for a definitive VAT system that is clear, consistent, robust and comprehensive, as well as proportionate and future-proof. The Committee welcomes the strong focus on closing the VAT gap and tackling the susceptibility of VAT to fraud. There should be results delivered without delay, including by improving cooperation between tax administrations. “Bona fide” enterprises should be protected and no new excessive measures should be imposed on them. The future system of reduced rates must combine flexibility and legal certainty, be transparent, and for the sake of simplicity the number of reduced rates and exemptions must be limited.