The Small Business Act (SBA) was adopted in June 2008 and was a milestone in the European policy for small and medium-sized enterprises. It recognises the central role of microenterprises and SMEs to the promotion of growth, innovation, social inclusion and employment in the European economy.
The ‘Think Small First’ principle is at the core of the Small Business Act. It places SMEs at the forefront of policy-making and should ensure that new regulations don’t add to the burdens faced by businesses.
The European Commission is constantly monitoring the implementation of the Small Business Act and, when it deems it appropriate, puts forward proposals to review it. In 2011, the European Commission adopted a Review of the Small Business Act, which took stock of the progress and suggested possible actions to improve its application.
In spite of various policymakers’ statements, European laws are still far from a punctual application of the SBA principles. Given its non-binding character, without a genuine respect of its principles the Small Business Act will remain a mere demonstration of good will.
The SBA has to be a strong inter-institutional agreement for a concrete application of the Think Small First principle at the European and national levels, with a real inclusion of SMEs and their representatives in the legislative processes.
The Small Business Act establishes a set of 10 principles to steer the drafting and implementation of policies to benefit SMEs both at EU and national level:
With the SBA Review, the Commission launched an annual SME Assembly to mobilise all relevant stakeholders in the implementation of the SBA. Member States and the European Commission also appointed an SME Envoy, an official representative in charge of coordinating SME issues across different administrations. Together with representatives of EU-level SME business organisations, the Network of SME Envoys makes up the SBA advisory group.