EU Commissioner wants to ease SMEs' red tape burden

Keeping the credit crunch wolves at bay

The European Union yesterday called on Member States to participate in a major review of the accounting directives for small biz firms to help reduce the administrative burden on SMEs.

Charlie McCreevy, who is the EU Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services, said that during this “difficult period” of ongoing economic doom and gloom the small biz world, which many tech multinationals have increasingly punted their goods at in recent years, could be easily overlooked.

“All the talk in the press is about the banks, the big financial institutions, the mortgage lenders. We are all affected by what is happening. What we must not forget is that for small businesses, life goes on,” said McCreevy. “They remain the backbone of the European economy.”

He said the EU has already adopted measures aimed at cutting through the red tape for SMEs, as well as saving a few Euro cents in the area of company law for mergers and divisions. McCreevy claimed €1bn a year has been kept in the piggy bank since measures were fast-tracked in 2007 and April this year.

But the EU hasn’t gone far enough on accounting rules for SMEs, he said.

In July 2008 an independent finance group headed by Edmund Stoiber presented a report to the EU in which it found immediate savings of €5.7bn if diminutive outfits were exempted from the accounting framework and no longer had to prepare annual accounts.

Despite some objections to the findings among the Stoiber group, proposals were put forward to McCreevy in July to overhaul the system and exempt “micro entities” from the current accounting rules.

The Commissioner said that adopting the proposals would benefit European business and offered a better solution than simply making “piecemeal changes” in the current choppy economic environment. ®

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