SNP Give Cautious Welcome to EU Small Business Act

30 June 2008
"Solid ideas which should help Scottish small business - challenge will be to make them happen"

SNP Member of the European Parliament Mr Alyn Smith has today (Wednesday) given a cautious welcome to the Small Business Package unveiled by the European Commission in Brussels this morning.

The package will see action on an EU level to make national and local procurement contracts more accessible for small business; open the door to lower VAT payments on locally sourced goods and services; and speed up action on late payments. A further directive on a single statute for European private companies is also foreseen, which should make cross border trade easier within the EU.

Smith, himself a former business lawyer, said:

"This package has been a long time coming, and has a number of welcome ideas in it which should make the EU even more accessible for Scotland's small businesses, which make up the vast majority of the Scots economy.

"Crucially it recognises an issue I have long been working on, the importance of government procurement, worth a massive 18,000 billion euro across the EU. The proposals will relax the rules on locally sourced goods and services which will ensure Scotland's government, local authorities, prisons schools and others will find it easier to 'buy local' and even put local suppliers at an advantage which is good for the environment as well as the Scottish economy.

"A directive on late payments will come as welcome news to the many businesses that have been in contact with me in utter frustration when faced with enforcing late payment from someone in another EU country. At present often the value of the debt is less than the cost of enforcing it, so Scots businesses lose out so action on this is very welcome.

"The proposal to see a single statute for a European Private Company is an idea probably best described as 'interesting' at present. So long as this is an opt-in measure which cuts down on administration then it is to be welcomed, but the devil will be in the detail on this one. From the Scots experience of working in the English jurisdiction, a distinct and separate legal country, we know that this will be a complicated and sensitive undertaking.

"All in all a useful package and we look forward to working on it to level the EU playing field for Scotland's businesses."