Fabian Demicoli

Small Business Act

 At EU level implementation still far from being complete, but situation is worse at national level – GRTU has this week written to the Ministry for Finance in reply to the consultation on the Review of the Small Business Act. GRTU replied as below:

 

The GRTU is still eagerly waiting for the national government to put the SBA principles and actions at the centre of all SME-relevant policies, to fully involve representative business organisations and to put in place the recently made suggestions to improve governance. Steps forward should be taken at EU level, for instance by fully embracing the ‘Think Small First' principle from the very early stages of policy making and securing the availability of financial resources for all the initiatives foreseen by the Small Business Act.

The principles and actions of the Small Business Act are far from being well established, both at EU level and at national level.

Currently Governments seem to be paying mostly lip service to the SBA and only too few concrete measures have really been put it at the centre of their policies. This was clearly highlighted by the examples of Good Practice in the SBA review recently published by the European Commission. GRTU warmly welcomes the two best practices listed as Maltese (MicroInvest and Business Advisory Services), however these are still few. Such a slow-paced and uneven implementation cannot be tolerated any longer. It is a slap in the face to businesses.

The proposals made by the Commission in its review could help to speed up the process and bring about concrete results in the near future. This is true especially as far as governance is concerned. The SBA review has stressed the importance of involving representative business organisations. We expect progress to be made in this respect. They should closely monitor and coordinate the SBA implementation and follow-up, guarantee that the interests of SMEs are taken into account in all policy areas and last but not least ensure the full application of the ‘Think Small First' principle. The same aims should be further pursued at EU level. For instance, the reality of small companies should be fully taken into account from the very early stages of policy making, starting from impact assessment.

The impact of the Small Business Act will depend on one hand on the concrete implementation at national, regional and local level. On the other hand, it is also clearly linked to the availability of adequate funds. Financial resources must be secured for the many important actions contained in the SBA, for instance on standardisation, risk capital, guarantees, the comparison of existing best practices, statistics and research on the SBA implementation and many others.

With the debate on Europe's financial perspectives now well underway, policymakers have a chance that cannot be missed to invest in SMEs. We hope that they will put their money where their mouth is.

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