European Commission Promises to Help SMEs on Onerous Laws


After identifying European Union laws that hinder small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the European Commission promises numerous fixes. The commission has been reviewing what it calls the most irrelevant or oppressive laws with which SMEs having been coping.

“The Commission is making sure that EU legislation is fit for purpose and helps European businesses to grow and to create jobs,” said European Commission President José Manuel Barroso in mid-March 2013.

“This is why we have put smart regulation at the heart of our policy-making,” he added. “And this is why we want to ease the lives of our small and medium sized enterprises, which are most important engines for Europe’s economy.”

Port workersImage source: © European Union

The commission is the executive body of the EU, and is comprised of a representative from each of the 27 member countries.

The commission launched a program in December 2012 that it calls REFIT, or Regulatory Fitness and Performance Program. Recommendations to solve the burdensome laws – either in more study or legislative amendments – are due June 2013.

Proposed fixes include:

REACH – Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals. More than 1600 businesses commented for the study, which concluded that REACH works as designed. The law will stay in place. But SMEs are disproportionately burdened and the commission expects to make recommendations.

VAT – Value added taxes. The commission won’t propose elimination of VAT, but like REACH, it promises to simplify the law for SMEs. For example, this is likely to include standardized forms for inter-country business and a VAT Web portal.

Product Safety and Market Surveillance Package. It’s hoped that lucid rules will decrease costs for SMEs to comply with the law and sell more products throughout the EU marketplace. The Commission promises “special guidance and information” for businesses on the changes via EEN, the European Enterprise Network.

The commission will also underwrite law enforcement of product safety.

European professional card. To enhance mobility of workers throughout the EU, the commission introduced the idea of a professional card. It’s currently being discussed in Parliament.

Waste shipments. The commission is reviewing waste policy. This includes hazardous waste and plastics.

Labor market – worker health and safety. Launched in 2012, the review of worker health and safety is expected to be completed by 2015.

Data protection. Companies with fewer than 250 employees will not be required to hire a data protection officer or undergo “data protection impact assessments” – as long as the companies’ mission isn’t data processing.

Recording equipment in road transport – for driving and rest periods. SMEs wouldn’t be required to install a tachograph on their vehicles if they drive within a radius of 100 km. Parliament is reviewing the proposal.

Awarding of public supply and service contracts. SMEs would supposedly benefit under simplified procedures for the awarding of public contracts. Parliament is considering the proposals now.

These sound like good ideas. Let’s hope the European Commission keeps this philosophy going.

From the Coach’s Corner, additional reading:

“Regulations grow at the same rate as weeds.”
-Norman Ralph Augustine

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.