MEPs must look beyond continuing Brexit uncertainty and take the lead in implementing a small business plan that will unlock the potential of Europe’s 23.8 million small businesses, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has urged.
In its ‘Small Business Plan for Europe’, FSB is calling on all parties and candidates contesting the European Parliament elections as well as the incoming European Commission, to deliver a raft of reforms for the small business community: from tackling the growing threat of cyber-crime to creating a prompt payment culture.
FSB National Chairman, Mike Cherry, said: “Europe’s 23.8 million vibrant small firms are the heartbeat of their respective economies and it is right that policymakers in Brussels do everything they can to help these entrepreneurs grow and flourish.
“This is just as true for UK small businesses as it is for any other small business on the continent, as despite ongoing uncertainty about our future relationship with the EU, decisions made in Brussels will continue to impact the everyday lives of small business owners here in the UK.
“A self-employed consultant from Huddersfield will have the same questions for MEPs as a small drinks producer from Prague. How can you make sure that I am paid on time? Are you going to help my business trade with new international partners? Am I going to be able to access the talent I need to grow my business? All MEPs should be seeking to answer these questions before and after the polls on 23 May.”
FSB’s plan, put forward on behalf of the UK’s 5.6 million small businesses, sets out clear steps that the European Parliament and incoming European Commission should take to enhance productivity, boost growth through trade and access to finance, increase security resilience and promote diversity and inclusion for all. Key measures include:
1) Prohibiting persistent late payers from all future public procurement contracts via a targeted revision of the EU’s Public Procurement Directive.
2) Ensuring all future and revised trade agreements contain a comprehensive small business chapter.
3) Making existing skills initiatives and policies more inclusive of smaller businesses and sole traders, helping them to up skill and satisfy their skills demands.
4) Adopting strict rules on regulatory changes to help limit the cumulative burden on small businesses.
5) Improving the law enforcement response to cyber crime in the longer term through effective coordination of Member States cyber security and crime agencies.
6) Developing an EU level framework for women’s enterprise –in an effort to grow and support women’s enterprise.
Mike Cherry said: “With increasing global competition, rapid technological change, chronic productivity problems and rising costs, small firms are facing some of the toughest business conditions they have ever faced.
“Small businesses across Europe, not just in the UK, need support to better deal with these challenges. It is up to MEPs and policymakers to create the best possible conditions to allow our small firms to continue creating jobs, unlocking growth and driving innovation that benefits everyone.
“Our small business plan for Europe offers a roadmap to delivering this and we hope that MEPs from across Europe back it.”