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 Full text 
Monday, 10 February 2020 - Strasbourg Revised edition

SMEs and better regulation (debate)

  Henna Virkkunen, on behalf of the PPE Group. – Mr President, I would like to thank Commissioner Breton for presenting the views of the Commission. SMEs are really the backbone of our economy. They represent 99% of all businesses in the European Union, so their role is crucial when we speak about jobs and growth or innovations or competitiveness of Europe. I’m very happy that the new Commission has now many excellent goals to improve the position of SMEs in Europe. EU regulation needs to better help our SMEs to scale up, drive and expand.

I would like to stress three points here. First of all, better regulation, which is the main topic of today’s discussion. I would like to put a very specific question to the Commission: how will the Commission measure implementation costs of European Union legislation ex ante and ex post so that the compliance costs for SMEs are reduced, while at the same time safeguarding environmental, labour and social standards? And because I know that Vice-President Šefčovič is responsible for this – better regulation, I would like to ask if it’s possible to receive a written answer to this specific question.

But then two other points related to your portfolio, Commissioner Breton. First of all, I am very happy at the introduction of an SME envoy, which has been Parliament’s request for a long time, and it would also be good to hear where the Commission is planning to locate the announced SME envoy in order to oversee all relevant DGs and services.

The third point is more for the preparation of the SME strategy, and it’s about late payments, because this is something that we are now hearing very much from the SMEs and stakeholders: that they have bigger and bigger problems with late payments, and that often the big companies – big customers – do not respect the timelines. I hope that the Commission will address the problem of late payments when preparing the SME strategy, because better enforcement of the Late Payments Directive is needed so that SMEs too can benefit from the Directive.

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