Public procurement: good news but also concerns for SMEs - The European Commission presented this week a package of proposals to modernise the EU rules on public procurement. UEAPME welcomed the simplification measures suggested by the EC, such as lower turnover requirements for tender participants and the introduction of self-declaration in the initial tender stages. It also praised the Commission for promoting the division of tenders into lots, a measure that can boost SMEs' share of public contracts, and for its stance on the use of environmental and social criteria in public tenders, which as requested by UEAPME will be strictly related to the specific contract and not the company. On the other hand, the Commission suggested increasing the use of the "negotiation" procedure. This can trigger the risk of intransparent procedures to the advantage of insiders and incumbents, warned UEAPME, which also criticised the shorter deadlines introduced, that will make it more difficult for SMEs to prepare tenders in due time.
Professional qualifications: many EC proposals go too far
The European Commission presented this week its proposals to modernise the EU rules on the recognition of professional qualifications. UEAPME welcomed the increased compulsory use of online means to provide information to professionals and to citizens. It also appreciated the decision to keep the current 5 levels of qualification, although concerns remain on the deletion of important criteria for measuring the differences of qualifications and defining compensation measures. On the "European Professional Card" proposed by the EC, UEAPME stressed that it can indeed simplify the current procedures, but it should not replace the declaration to be made in advance by service providers under the current directive. UEAPME also criticised the introduction of "partial access", and spoke against the deletion of the requirement to prove at least 2 years of relevant professional experience for service providers accompanying service recipients outside their Member State of residence.
Accounting rules for micro-enterprises: success for UEAPME
The European Parliament's plenary voted last week in Strasbourg on the "Lehne report" on accounting obligations for micro enterprises. MEPs approved a common position with the Council, further to which accounting requirements for micro companies will be significantly simplified. Although Member States have the possibility to exempt micro entities from publishing annual accounts, according to the compromise accounting data will have to be drawn up, filed and made available on request, which was a key demand that UEAPME managed to secure thanks to its lobbying work. The new rules are likely to reduce red tape for micro entities while at the same time ensuring transparency. Secretary General Andrea Benassi stressed that this solution puts an end to four years of discussions on this file, which delayed for too long a serious and much needed debate on the simplification of the existing harmonised accounting rules for all companies.
Access to finance: support to loans, Basel III key concerns
Economic and Fiscal Policy Director Gerhard Huemer recently spoke at a hearing organised by the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels on the impact of the new financial rules on the banking sector. His intervention dealt with finance for SMEs by banks, which are increasingly unable to provide sufficient access to loans on their own, stressed Mr Huemer. This is true both for "classic" investment activities and for riskier ventures such as start-ups and innovation. Public support for SME finance is therefore crucial at this stage, he continued. The implementation in Europe of the "Basel III" rules on capital requirements is an additional source of concern, said Mr Huemer. The current EC proposals in the field are one-sided as they only deal with capital requirements and do not touch upon risk weights, which should be differentiated and actually immediately reduced for SME loans.
Commission to launch workshops to assess need for a European Retail Action Plan
The Commission has confirmed the launch of three workshops in February and March 2012, to discuss with stakeholders the future of retail services in Europe and the need for a European Retail Action Plan. This will provide a basis for the Commission to identify and address the main issues for a future Retail Action Plan. The first workshop will assess the scope of the Retail Action Plan, urban planning and the freedom of establishment, digital retail and SEPA. EuroCommerce is compiling a list of concrete proposals for the retail sector so as to address our members' concerns and positions, in line with ERRT, Euro-Coop and UGAL.
UEAPME- European Association Of Craft, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises
EUROCOMMERCE- European Association Of Retail, Wholesale and International Trade Sectors in Europe
UERAPME and EUROCOMMERCE are the umbrella organisations that represents GRTU and its members in Brussels.