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SMEs and Better Regulation

07-02-2020

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the European economy. However, numerous internal and external constraints, such as red tape and stringent business regulations, can make running a small business very difficult for entrepreneurs. Creating a business-friendly regulatory environment is a long-standing EU objective. The European Commission's cross-cutting policy on better regulation spearheads improvements, and its 'SME Test' scrutinises the impact of EU proposals on SMEs ...

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the European economy. However, numerous internal and external constraints, such as red tape and stringent business regulations, can make running a small business very difficult for entrepreneurs. Creating a business-friendly regulatory environment is a long-standing EU objective. The European Commission's cross-cutting policy on better regulation spearheads improvements, and its 'SME Test' scrutinises the impact of EU proposals on SMEs. The Commission is due to make a statement during the February plenary session on SMEs and better regulation.

Public economic support in the EU: State aid and special economic zones

06-02-2020

State aid can be defined as an advantage given by a government that may provide a company with an unfair competitive edge over its commercial rivals. State aid can take several forms, such as public subsidies, tax relief, or the purchasing of goods and services on preferential terms. While the European Union (EU) competition rules consider State aid to be incompatible with the internal market, they allow such aid when it promotes general economic development, for example, when tackling the challenges ...

State aid can be defined as an advantage given by a government that may provide a company with an unfair competitive edge over its commercial rivals. State aid can take several forms, such as public subsidies, tax relief, or the purchasing of goods and services on preferential terms. While the European Union (EU) competition rules consider State aid to be incompatible with the internal market, they allow such aid when it promotes general economic development, for example, when tackling the challenges of global competition, the ongoing financial crisis, the digital revolution, and demographic change. To this end, all EU Member States provide some public economic support, for instance, to the coal mining sector, banks, or the digital economy. To contribute to regional development and to increase competitiveness, some Member States have created special economic zones (SEZs), which offer an attractive combination of tax-and-tariff incentives, streamlined customs procedures, less laws, provision of infrastructure, and creation of business clusters. The European Commission is currently evaluating the State aid modernisation (SAM) package and some of its related laws, as these will expire by the end of 2020. The European Parliament takes a two fold stance towards public economic support in the EU. On the one hand, Parliament stresses that State aid should support ecological transformation and foster the development of services, knowledge, and infrastructure rather than providing support to specific companies. On the other hand, it calls on the Commission to ensure that State aid is reduced in the long term, given its distortive effects on the internal market. While the temporary State aid offered to the financial sector to stabilise the EU financial system might have been necessary, Parliament calls on the Commission to scrutinise and eventually remove this aid. Parliament, inter alia, also calls on the Member States to abandon unfair competition practices based on unjustified tax incentives and to adopt appropriate rules in the Council.

EU industrial policy at the crossroads: Current state of affairs, challenges and way forward

02-12-2019

Industry plays a pivotal role in the EU's economy and growth model. Today, however, it stands at the crossroads, heavily affected by new disruptive forces, ranging from the rise of new technologies to shifts in global economic power and evolving geopolitical circumstances. Addressing these challenges raises a number of critical dilemmas, such as the need to pursue openness of markets and trade while protecting industry from unfair competition, or the need to promote greener and more sustainable industry ...

Industry plays a pivotal role in the EU's economy and growth model. Today, however, it stands at the crossroads, heavily affected by new disruptive forces, ranging from the rise of new technologies to shifts in global economic power and evolving geopolitical circumstances. Addressing these challenges raises a number of critical dilemmas, such as the need to pursue openness of markets and trade while protecting industry from unfair competition, or the need to promote greener and more sustainable industry while maintaining its global competitiveness. It also prompts a reconsideration of the EU's strategic positioning from a defensive to an offensive policy stance. These developments have triggered a lively debate on the need for a renewed, more assertive, comprehensive and coordinated industrial policy at EU level. This paper reviews the current state of affairs and key challenges facing the EU and provides an analysis of the main policy options going forward.

CETA implementation: SMEs and regions in focus

18-11-2019

The majority of provisions of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) have been implemented since 21 September 2017, with the agreement’s provisional application pending full ratification. The aim of this EPRS analysis is to chart the state of play of CETA's ratification procedures, its key objectives, remaining controversies, and the initial results stemming from two years of provisional application, with a focus on regions and small and medium-sized enterprises ...

The majority of provisions of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) have been implemented since 21 September 2017, with the agreement’s provisional application pending full ratification. The aim of this EPRS analysis is to chart the state of play of CETA's ratification procedures, its key objectives, remaining controversies, and the initial results stemming from two years of provisional application, with a focus on regions and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It is important to note that it is too early to evaluate the economic and social impacts of CETA. That will be the remit of the ex-post evaluation usually carried out by the European Commission five years after the start of provisonal application. By providing an overview of the early results of CETA implementation two years in, this analysis seeks to inform forthcoming deliberations on both CETA itself and other free trade agreements between the EU and various partner countries.

Multinational enterprises, value creation and taxation: Key issues and policy developments

03-07-2019

The substantial reduction in trade costs and the rapid technological advances characterising the global economy over the past three decades have allowed multinational enterprises (MNEs) to increasingly break up their supply chains and spread them across different countries. The principal implication of this change relates to the concept of value added and the way it is created and captured across MNE-controlled global value chains (GVCs). The dynamic nature of transfers within MNEs, the increasing ...

The substantial reduction in trade costs and the rapid technological advances characterising the global economy over the past three decades have allowed multinational enterprises (MNEs) to increasingly break up their supply chains and spread them across different countries. The principal implication of this change relates to the concept of value added and the way it is created and captured across MNE-controlled global value chains (GVCs). The dynamic nature of transfers within MNEs, the increasing role of services and intangible assets in manufacturing, and most critically the unfolding digital revolution have all intensified the mobility of value-generating factors within GVCs, and highlighted the difficulty of defining the exact location where value is generated. These developments have significant policy implications. One critical area is that of tax policy, where the challenges posed by the new economic landscape are numerous and multifaceted. On the one hand, governments seek to encourage trade and investment by MNEs by removing tax and regulatory barriers they face. Some governments go even further by resorting to harmful tax competition that drives corporate income taxes to the bottom. At the same time, many MNEs continue to employ enhanced tax arbitrage to minimise their tax obligations across jurisdictions; furthermore, business models are increasingly becoming borderless and highly mobile, and therefore difficult to tax. In view of these challenges, consensus is gradually emerging that tax systems need improved alignment to ensure that profits are taxed where the economic activities generating them are performed and where value is created. Yet, allocating jurisdiction to tax business profits in the context of MNE-controlled GVCs remains a highly complex process.

Enabling SMEs' access to capital markets

09-04-2019

Making it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access financing through public markets lies at the heart of the capital markets union – the plan to mobilise capital in Europe. Among the various reasons for going ahead with this union is the fact that existing requirements and listing costs in both regulated and multilateral trading venues continue to be disproportionate to the size and level of sophistication of SMEs. To further respond to this situation, the Commission has proposed ...

Making it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access financing through public markets lies at the heart of the capital markets union – the plan to mobilise capital in Europe. Among the various reasons for going ahead with this union is the fact that existing requirements and listing costs in both regulated and multilateral trading venues continue to be disproportionate to the size and level of sophistication of SMEs. To further respond to this situation, the Commission has proposed adopting a regulation to address the administrative burden placed on SMEs when listing or issuing equity and bonds, with the aim to increase liquidity on SME growth markets. The latter are a new category of multilateral trading facilities, which was established under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II. To this end, the proposal provides for targeted amendments to two key pieces of financial services legislation, namely the Market Abuse Regulation (MAR) and the Prospectus Regulation. Following interinstitutional negotiations the co-legislators reached a provisional agreement on the proposal on 6 March 2019, and this is due to be voted in Parliament during the April II plenary session.

The InvestEU programme: Continuing EFSI in the next MFF

09-04-2019

Since its launch in November 2014, the Investment Plan for Europe (IPE) has had considerable success in mobilising private investment across Europe. Despite its success, investment levels in Europe remain below pre-crisis levels. There is therefore a need to provide for an extended EU investment programme under the new multiannual financial framework (MFF), which caters for multiple objectives in terms of simplification, flexibility, synergies and coherence across relevant EU policies. The InvestEU ...

Since its launch in November 2014, the Investment Plan for Europe (IPE) has had considerable success in mobilising private investment across Europe. Despite its success, investment levels in Europe remain below pre-crisis levels. There is therefore a need to provide for an extended EU investment programme under the new multiannual financial framework (MFF), which caters for multiple objectives in terms of simplification, flexibility, synergies and coherence across relevant EU policies. The InvestEU programme, expected to run from 2021 onwards, has been designed to address this challenge. It will bring diverse EU financial instruments within a single structure, making EU funding for investment projects in Europe simpler and more efficient and flexible. It will build on the success achieved by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and consist of the InvestEU Fund, the InvestEU Advisory Hub and the InvestEU Portal. Negotiators for Parliament and Council have reached a partial agreement on the text of the proposal, excluding budgetary figures and other elements which will not be finalised until overall agreement on the new MFF. Parliament is due to vote on that agreement in April 2019.

Standards and the digitalisation of EU industry: Economic implications and policy developments

27-03-2019

Industrial production, both globally and in the EU, is undergoing a radical digital transformation. New advanced manufacturing techniques rely primarily on innovative digital technologies, which cannot work in isolation, but are based on connected ecosystems delivering collective technological breakthroughs. All of these new technologies essentially rest on an interconnected 'smart world', where objects, machines, people and the environment are increasingly closely interlinked. The timely and harmonised ...

Industrial production, both globally and in the EU, is undergoing a radical digital transformation. New advanced manufacturing techniques rely primarily on innovative digital technologies, which cannot work in isolation, but are based on connected ecosystems delivering collective technological breakthroughs. All of these new technologies essentially rest on an interconnected 'smart world', where objects, machines, people and the environment are increasingly closely interlinked. The timely and harmonised adoption of technical standards is likely to play a pivotal role in this context. Standards can facilitate the ongoing digitalisation of industry by promoting compatibility and interoperability between products and processes; they can also transfer information between economic agents or machines, while guaranteeing minimum levels of quality and safety. Crucially, standards can also become accelerators of change, by promoting innovation and the uptake of new digital technologies. The EU has long recognised this key role of standards in the overall efforts to remove barriers and unlock the growth potential of the economy. Yet, progress in new technologies around the world is accelerating exponentially, and the development of new standards in the field is increasingly taking place outside Europe. This trend could undermine the EU's future comparative advantage and weaken the competitiveness of European industry in the long term. It therefore calls for a coordinated effort to develop European technology standards that are not only more responsive to policy needs but are also agile, open, more strongly linked to research and innovation, and importantly, better joined up.

Global and regional value chains: Opportunities for European SMEs' internationalisation and growth

14-02-2019

International value chains have emerged as the new paradigm for the organisation of production globally. Today, most production processes across the world are vertically fragmented as a result of the increased unbundling of tasks and functions and their sourcing from different geographical locations. The extent to which this expansion in supply-chain trade is global in character (which some describe as the 'Factory World' phenomenon), or is rather based on more intra-regional ties clustered around ...

International value chains have emerged as the new paradigm for the organisation of production globally. Today, most production processes across the world are vertically fragmented as a result of the increased unbundling of tasks and functions and their sourcing from different geographical locations. The extent to which this expansion in supply-chain trade is global in character (which some describe as the 'Factory World' phenomenon), or is rather based on more intra-regional ties clustered around Europe, Asia and the Americas, is still being debated in the literature. Notwithstanding their geographical characteristics, international value chains offer increased opportunities for enterprises, by fostering their growth and internationalisation irrespective of their scale and size. To SMEs, they offer a broader range of channels through which they can participate more actively in global markets. By linking with international supply chains, SMEs can take a first step up the ladder, which – through spill-overs and knowledge transfers – can often give them access to assignments of higher added value. With greater interconnectedness, however, comes greater complexity. Not all SMEs are able to take advantage of the opportunities and link with international value chains in an effective way. More importantly, however, for those that do manage to integrate into international production chains, the magnitude and nature of the benefits will critically depend on the SMEs' entry point and position in global production networks and the links they can develop within those networks.

Economic and Budgetary Outlook for the European Union 2019

30-01-2019

This EPRS study, the third in an annual series, provides an overview of the economic and budgetary situation in the EU and beyond. It summarises the main economic indicators in the Union and euro area, and their two-year trends. The figures show that growth was moderate in 2018, at 2.1 %, although this is expected to deteriorate slightly in the coming months, given the poorer global outlook than a year ago. That said, unemployment is at a post-crisis low, and is expected to improve further, given ...

This EPRS study, the third in an annual series, provides an overview of the economic and budgetary situation in the EU and beyond. It summarises the main economic indicators in the Union and euro area, and their two-year trends. The figures show that growth was moderate in 2018, at 2.1 %, although this is expected to deteriorate slightly in the coming months, given the poorer global outlook than a year ago. That said, unemployment is at a post-crisis low, and is expected to improve further, given positive labour market conditions. The study explains the annual EU budget, providing an overview of its headings for 2019, with the total amounting to €165.8 billion (or around 1 % of EU gross national income). The budget focuses on priorities that include stimulating investment, growth and research, the creation of new jobs – especially for young people – and addressing migration and security challenges. The wider budgetary framework – the multiannual financial framework (MFF) – is also analysed in the study, with key decisions on spending for the 2021-2027 period due to be taken during 2019. In this year's edition, the special 'economic focus' offers a bird's eye view of SMEs and SME policy in Europe, and of various recent EU-level initiatives in this field. The EU budget devotes particular attention to SMEs, given their central role in the European economy and in job creation. The EU needs to continue devoting efforts to improving European SMEs' access to finance, since despite recent improvements, they are still too heavily reliant on debt financing which puts them at risk in a downturn.

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