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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Business in Europe, 02.2009

  1. EIB rolls out SME funding scheme
  2. Brussels to fund ‘Erasmus’ for SMEs
  3. Commission cuts red tape for micro-enterprises
  4. Companies push for 'very low-energy buildings'

EIB rolls out SME funding scheme

13 February 2009

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is ramping up its support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by making up to €30 billion available over the next three years and providing technical assistance to microfinance institutions.

EIB President Philippe Maystadt said loans would be given to banks, which would then pass credit on to small businesses. He said SMEs have been hardest hit by the current downturn and jobs are in jeopardy due to the lack of credit available from banks.

However, an initial attempt to establish a European Microfinance Fund had not attracted sufficient funds from member states due to "a lack of solidarity" and governments' insistence on attaching strict conditions to money they lend, he added.

Maystadt insisted the new scheme is not aimed at increasing the liquidity of banks, but would encourage financial institutions to loosen the supply of much-needed credit to SMEs.

To mitigate the risks taken by banks in lending to businesses, the EIB will take on half of the risk, thus reducing the capital requirements of lending institutions. source

My comment:No, it's not intended to the bank, AT ALL! Well, if not else, it would really help small businesses-I guess it's a win-win situation. It's good to see that people start realising the only way to survive is to help each other. Because the tendency for nationalisation surely doesn't represent a happy future for banks, even for EIB.

Brussels to fund ‘Erasmus’ for SMEs

20 February 2009

Entrepreneurs will be paid up to €1,100 per month to move to other EU countries to learn from experienced business owners as part of a pilot project designed to encourage young business owners to make more of the internal market.

The scheme is part of the Small Business Act which was unveiled in July 2008 and will help 870 entrepreneurs to spend between one and six months in another EU member state in 2010.

People starting their own businesses will be paired with established SMEs with the help of local chambers of commerce and other intermediary organisations.

Funding for expenses varies according to the cost of living in member states and ranges from €560 in Latvia to €1,100 in Denmark, but entrepreneurs keen to avail of the scheme will be expected to raise additional funds and demonstrate that they have a viable business plan.

“New entrepreneurs will gain competences and perspectives that will prove invaluable during the business start-up phase, while also enhancing potential cross-border activity and thus the probability of success,” said Ben Butters, Director of European Affairs at Eurochambers.

Maive Rute, Director for Promotion of SMEs’ competitiveness, European Commission, said the project is similar to the long-running Erasmus programme which allows students to spend a year studying abroad.

She said it will strengthen links between EU citizens and foster an entrepreneurial spirit among younger people.

Businesses across Europe continue to focus on their national market rather than exploiting commercial opportunities elsewhere in the EU, with just 8% of SMEs exporting their goods and services within the EU.source

My comment: Now, that's what I call fun. I haven't been in Erasmus, though that would have been nice, but then, it's not very easy to go in another country when there's no one to take care of the dog. Anyway, I find this new initiative for very promising. Even if it's somewhat unrealistic-without an incentive for the "old" businessmen, there simply won't be enough volunteers to make the program work. But it's cool, because this way, you can meet another cultures, find out the rules in other countries and in the end, bring the good things in your home-country by requesting the same conditions from the government. That's cool, right?!

Commission cuts red tape for micro-enterprises

2 March 2009

The European Commission plans to ditch accounting requirements for the EU's smallest companies in an effort to ease the administrative burden and save each business up to €1,200 per year, or a total of €6.3 billion.

Member states will be allowed to completely abolish financial reporting obligations for micro-enterprises as part of the European Economic Recovery Plan, which was originally unveiled in November 2008.

Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy saidexternal the move will ease the burden on small businesses at a time of economic uncertainty, but it will be up to member states to decide whether to implement the proposal.

He called on the European Parliament to give its full and rapid backing to the Commission's plan.

The EU executive said these companies have limited resources but have been expected to comply with the same demanding regulations faced by larger companies.

To qualify, companies must meet two of three requirements set out by the Commission:

  • A balance sheet total of not more than €500,000;
  • A net turnover of not more than €1,000,000, and;
  • Not more than ten employees. source
My comment: I don't get it, what do they mean by "abolish financial reporting obligations"? Surely every company must make a financial report at the end of each year, right? Obviously it's aimed to help small companies, but still, it's somewhat unrealistic to expect member-state not to require documentation from companies. Or maybe I didn't understand correctly. Anyway, I'm glad to see so many steps to help SMEs. Because after all, banks my happily crash, but the whole thing is affecting families. And it's not fair people to pay for the rotten system.

Companies push for 'very low-energy buildings'

18 February 2009

Governments need to communicate more clearly their objectives on improving the energy consumption of buildings, to give construction companies more certainty about future demand, according to a survey to be published later today.

EuroACE, the federation of companies producing energy-saving goods and services, will publish the results of its new survey on very low-energy buildings today (18 February). The study argues that the EU could reduce CO2 emissions by at least 36 Mt per year in 2020 while saving 568 PJ of energy if all new buildings were to be constructed as very low-energy buildings from 2012 (see EurActiv LinksDossier).

The survey was conducted in five member states - Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom - which were deemed to have the most advanced national strategies to promote low-energy building. Together, these countries are home to half of EU citizens, and the results were therefore seen to be a conservative representation of the current state of the sector across the Union as a whole, considering that energy savings potential is considerably higher in the Eastern member states than in a country like Denmark.

Dyrbøl said that all member states answering the questionnaire identified a clearly communicated long-term policy framework as crucial.

The EU's Enery Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) did not give national governments appropriate incentives to devise such strategies as it only required them to revise their building requirements every five years, without an obligation to actually strengthen them, she argued. She said, however, that the EPBD seemed to have an impact beyond its ambitions just by asking EU countries to look at their building codes.

"We have identified at least eight countries which have made a plan on how their energy requirements will be strengthened up to 2020," Dyrbøl said, stressing that "ambitious European legislation" like the current recast of the EPBD is still urgently needed to guide the development of low-energy building. source

My comment: That's very intersting, because here, in Bulgaria, I think all the new buildings come with a certificate for energy efficiency. And there is not an opt-out from this. It's another question what exactly this sertificate means in reality, but all the building come with external insulation and good window frames, which leads to a great energy savings, especially in a country with a cold winters as ours. Obviously, sometimes good things can be done even with the wrong motivation. And what's even more fun is that the actual drive in Bulgaria isn't ecology, it's business!

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