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    Directorate-General for SME Policy 

    The Directorate-General (DG) is committed to policies benefiting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and self-employed individuals. It does so by assisting the federal government in its efforts to promote entrepreneurship, business acumen, and the establishment and growth of SMEs. The DG listens to its stakeholders, collects, processes, and disseminates information and documentation. It also serves as an institutional intermediary between the EU and the federated entities, coordinating the conversion and implementation in Belgium of various European initiatives and programmes in partnership with those federated authorities. 

    Our role during the Belgian presidency 

    During the Belgian presidency, our DG will represent the interests of small and medium-sized enterprises in ongoing negotiations on European proposals. We will closely monitor developments related to the regulation concerning late payments . Additionally, our DG will take initiatives for a uniform approach to contracts of commercial collaboration and European law in the distribution sector and a European policy for crafts. The highlight will be an event with financing as a central theme in the first quarter of 2024. 

    SMEs in Focus 

    After the pandemic, businesses face new challenges, such as rising energy prices, inflation, and supply chain issues. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), crucial for our prosperity and competitiveness, are particularly affected. It is essential to support those companies during this challenging period, as SMEs represent 99% of all businesses, create two-thirds of all jobs, and generate half of our prosperity. For Europe to thrive, SMEs must thrive. 

    The Belgian presidency recognizes the urgency and aims to advocate for the interests of SMEs, with specific attention to the SME Relief Package. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, announced the action plan to support European SMEs in her State of the European Union address. Launched in September 2023, that plan focuses on three key areas. 

    1. Issue of late payment of invoices. In the aftermath of the pandemic and inflation, the number of overdue invoices is increasing, jeopardizing the liquidity and activities of SMEs. The existing European regulations fall short, and therefore, the Late Payment Directive will be revised and transformed into a modern European standard to better protect SMEs within the internal market. 
    2. Implementation of a clear and easily implementable legislation to relieve SMEs of disproportionate costs. Currently, SMEs face significant burdens in complying with various regulations. Belgium will work towards harmonizing insolvency legislation, with special attention to micro-enterprises (<10 employees), to reduce administrative burdens. 
    3. Access for SMEs to financing and skills. Due to increased interest rates, obtaining financing becomes more challenging, potentially hindering new investments and the growth of SMEs. 


    During the presidency,  the Directorate-General for SME Policy of the Federal Public Service Economy is organizing an event titled "Access to Financing for SMEs: Assessment and Perspectives". During the event, we will explore the financing needs of SMEs and identify shortcomings in financial markets to address them.  During panel sessions with experts, the revisions regarding late payments and the harmonization of the insolvency framework, and their impact on SMEs will be discussed. 

    Additionally, the event aims to inspire the next European Commission by addressing the use of intellectual property and ESG reporting by SMEs to obtain financing. While voluntary for (non-listed) SMEs, those practices can be tools to attract and convince investors. Reporting will be influenced by the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence (CSDD), with the latter being finalized during the Belgian presidency. Intellectual property is often of secondary importance to many SMEs due to disproportionately high costs. However, it is a significant part of the company's value in our knowledge economy and can be used as leverage to raise financing. Therefore, the Belgian presidency aims to contribute to the modernization of the legal framework for intellectual property and its use in obtaining financing. The event delves into the potential of both themes and explores the challenges.


    The Belgian presidency seizes the opportunity to take the first steps towards a harmonized European approach to commercial cooperation contracts, such as concession contracts, commission contracts, and franchise agreements. The distribution sector, utilizing those various contract categories, is under considerable pressure. Currently, diverse national legislative frameworks exist, and a study will map the differences to highlight the most recent and relevant legal frameworks, inspiring both European and national legislators. The results will be presented during an event. 

    Belgium also aims to use the presidency to initiate a European policy for crafts. In that context, a study will be conducted to provide an overview of best practices from different member states in the craft sector, offering perspectives and concrete proposals for the future. The study results will be presented during an event to inspire European institutions and member states to launch new initiatives within that theme. 

    Last update
    5 March 2024