CEEP organised this morning (25 January) a breakfast event on “Local Public Services Enterprises and the EU SME Definition” at the European Parliament, hosted by MEPs Herbert Reul (EPP, Germany) and Jean-Paul Denanot (S&D, France).

Speakers representing local public services enterprises from all around Europe illustrated the need to engage in a reflection on the EU SME Definition to make it a real tool of support for all SMEs in the EU. Concrete examples were presented by Thierry Durnerin (FedEpl – Fédération des Entreprises Publiques Locales, France), Dr. Milena Angelova (BICA – Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association, Bulgaria) and Dr. Özgür Öner (GdW – Federal German Housing and Real Estate Organisation, Germany). They invited MEPs and representatives from EU institutions to a reflection on how to make the EU SME Definition more inclusive so that it can better support growth and jobs creation.

Many of CEEP members are small and medium-sized enterprises, meeting the thresholds of an SME in terms of size. They however are not considered as SMEs per the EU definition, as they operate under some control of a public authority as providers of SGEIs. Such enterprises can therefore not take part in some funding and financial schemes and face a regulatory burden from which other SMEs (who might be competing for similar markets) are exempted.

Katherina Reiche, CEEP President:

“CEEP does fully support all measures aiming at facilitating SME business operations. The European Union urgently needs this huge potential of SMEs to enhance growth, competitiveness and employment. However, since the SME definition is becoming more widely used (at EU and national level, as well as in aspects of financing), we want to point at some of the shortcomings of the current EU SME policy.”

Services of General Interest can be described as “enabling services”. This means that without reliable energy and water supply or dependable waste water or waste management, the production of many other goods and services would not be possible. It is therefore unfortunate that many local public enterprises cannot benefit from easier access to finance or a reduction in the administrative burden. Instead, the opposite is true.

“With regard to the decision about whether a company is an SME or not, it should make no difference whether a state agency or a private individual is a partner in the company. The same demarcation criteria should apply without exception in both cases.”

You can find more on CEEP’s position on the issue in our Opinion “For an Inclusive EU SME Policy”.

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