Fabian Demicoli

News for our Representative Organisations in Brussels

State aid for risk finance: SMEs
propose changes to EU rules – Economic and Fiscal Policy Director Gerhard Huemer
participated this week in Brussels to a workshop organised by the European
Commission's DG Competition on the planned review of State aid rules for SMEs'
access to risk finance. Officials from DG COMP presented their plans for the
new rules, which should come into force in the second half of 2013.
The current
situation is quite disappointing, warned Mr Huemer, as most Member States are
not putting the current rules into practice. The new guidelines should
introduce two important changes, he continued. First of all, the so-called
"safe harbour" measures that are exempted from prior notification to the
Commission must be extended by including them in the so-called "General Block
Exemption Regulation". Secondly, the new guidelines should also cover
quasi-debt "mezzanine" instruments. This would give access to risk finance to
companies that are not willing to open up to equity from external investors.


Cloud computing: EC workshop
tackles contract terms

The European Commission organised a workshop this week in
Brussels to identify safe and fair terms for consumers and small firms in
contracts for "cloud computing", the use of software and other ICT services
over the internet. Speaking at the event, Enterprise Policy Director Luc
Hendrickx stressed that SMEs need neutral and understandable information to
take up offers for cloud computing services. As the data that could be stored
"in the cloud" are often crucial for the continuity of the enterprise, minimum
data security standards and proportional compensation clauses in case of data
loss should be introduced. A balanced and easily accessible alternative dispute
resolution system would also be needed for conflicts over contracts, he


Carbon allowances: SMEs worried by
"backloading" proposal

UEAPME has recently published and sent to Members of the
European Parliament and to the European Commission a position paper on the EC
proposal to set aside or to withdraw temporarily ("backload") EU carbon
allowances from the market in 2013-2015. Although the so-called emission
trading scheme (ETS) for greenhouse gas allowances mostly affects industries of
a bigger size, such a decision could also have negative effects on SMEs, for
instance in terms of higher energy prices or loss of supply and subcontracting
opportunities. Therefore, UEAPME stressed that the ETS should continue to
operate as a market instrument, and called for a comprehensive impact
assessment of the proposed changes. UEAPME will monitor the developments on
this file in the ongoing legislative procedure.


Public image of entrepreneurs must
be redressed

Enterprise Policy Director Luc Hendrickx spoke  in Brussels at the "Young European
Entrepreneurs Seminar 2012" organised by the European Economic and Social
Committee. The public image of entrepreneurs must be redressed to encourage
this career path, he stressed. Governments should promote respect for risk
takers and discourage the negative conception by the public and the media of
entrepreneurs as greedy and self centred individuals. Actually, making money is
rarely the first reason why entrepreneurs start their own business. Financial
support to set up private businesses and boost self employment is clearly
needed but is not sufficient, continued Mr Hendrickx. In fact, training in
management competences is equally essential for a successful business. Last but
not least, the creation of private businesses is positive but cannot be seen as
a tool against unemployment, he concluded.

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