One of the main focuses of the Public Service Board’s work is to change the so-called “SME definition”. For reasons of proportionality, a large number of EU legislative regulations provide for facilitations or support for SMEs. Small and medium-sized enterprises in which public authorities have a direct or indirect holding of more than 25 percent are not considered as SMEs according to the European Commission’s definition of ownership. This has far-reaching consequences, for example in the allocation of subsidies, so that these companies cannot take advantage of the planned administrative relief. In addition, the Corona crisis has shown that such an exclusion can cause major problems for small and medium-sized enterprises in particular and requires urgent reform.
For this reason, CEEP has repeatedly and very vehemently addressed the problem of this definition to the Commission in the context of the Corona crisis. In the coming weeks, we will continue to address this problem in the Public Service Board by preparing a modified version of the position paper on the definition of SMEs and by continuing to maintain a close exchange with stakeholders. In this context, all members are invited to submit concrete examples where public SMEs have been disadvantaged under the current SME definition.
CEEP has also focused strongly on Commission initiatives in the field of competition law and will continue to intensify its work in the coming months. This mainly concerned initiatives on the revision of State aid rules and on the use and re-use of data – especially from the public sector. Legal clarity in State aid regulations is vital concerning the high level of investment needed for SGEI providers to fulfil their mission at the public’s satisfaction in the long term. The revision of State aid rules will therefore remain a key competition law priority in the coming months.
One line of conflict for the public sector that has arisen relatively recently in the context of competition policy is the digitisation initiatives of the Commission. It is precisely these most recent initiatives that are intended to (re)regulate the transfer and use of data, particularly in view of the conditions created by digitisation. Consequently, they may have a far-reaching negative impact on the public economy.
The subject does not only concern competition law, however, but is of great relevance beyond the individual Boards of CEEP. For this reason, we have discussed and commented on competition-relevant areas of digitisation in a working group which is not attached to a Board. In the coming weeks, we will continue this work, particularly with regard to the consultations on the New Competition Tool and the Digital Services Act. You can find here CEEP’s response to the roadmap on European Data Spaces.