Commission approves prolongation of financing deadline under European Guarantee Fund
The European Commission (EC) approved on 14 June a prolongation of the deadline for banks to provide new financing to companies under the European Guarantee Fund (‘the Fund’). EC approved the establishment of the Fund in December 2020 and its subsequent amendment in November 2021.
The Fund is aimed at addressing in a coordinated manner the financing needs of European companies, mainly SMEs, affected by the coronavirus pandemic by providing guarantees on debt and equity instruments. Until now, the deadline for banks to provide new financing to companies was 30 June 2022. The prolongation is until 31 December 2022.
Commission publishes SME Performance Report 2022
The report was published on 20 June and concludes that, in 2021, Europe’s SMEs have been shifting to more sustainable and digital business models. That was despite dealing with difficult challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and now, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The report also highlights the risks of rapidly rising prices of energy and raw materials, new supply shortages and rising inflation at a time when implementing the green and digital transitions is particularly crucial.
EU reaches agreement on sustainability reporting Directive with listed SMEs in scope
On 21 June, the Council and the European Parliament (EP) reached a political agreement on the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).
In the press conference held the day after, rapporteur Pascal Durand (Renew Europe/France) and Commissioner McGuinness presented the outcome of the CSRD negotiations. Commissioner McGuinness highlighted that this agreement is a major step as financial and sustainability information would be put on an equal footing for the first time in the EU and beyond. As she mentioned, it is key that sustainability reporting standards must be verified.
Of interest for SMEs, the final agreement includes some changes. The scope is enlarged to all large and all listed companies (250+ employees). The reporting for listed SMEs will begin in 2027 (for financial year 2026), but SMEs can ‘opt-out’ from reporting requirements for a two-year transitional period.
For the reporting standards themselves, a second set of sector specific standards as well as SMEs should be adopted by the EC by 30 June 2024.
Commission maps out next steps for SME credit referral scheme
The EC published its feasibility report on 7 July, studying the possible policy options for setting up a pan-EU SME credit referral scheme. Under such a scheme, banks declining credit to an SME would be required to re-direct it to providers of alternative funding. The assessment concludes that a potential referral scheme, building on the European Single Access Point (ESAP) proposal currently under negotiation, would be the most promising avenue. The Commission will wait for the outcome of the ESAP negotiations before considering next steps.
The report assesses the use of a so-called “core and more” approach for SMEs’ ESAP disclosures under this scheme – a recommendation made by Accountancy Europe to the EC recently. Accountancy Europe has called for such a SME credit referral scheme since 2017.