DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR ECONOMY, EMPLOYMENT AND RESEARCH

SPW | Editions

COMPETITIVENESS AND INNOVATION DEPARTMENT

Econo...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

Preface

In a context of major institutional, economic ...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

Contents
Preface .........................................
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

Principle 6: Facilitating SMEs' access to finance, in p...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

Introduction

1

"Small Business Act": the European con...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

• In addition, it aims to eliminate obstacles to entrep...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

A Pact in support of initiative was launched in the con...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

3

The implementation of the SBA in Wallonia

In order ...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

Report on the implementation of the Walloon SBA
It appe...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

After a vote, these proposals are submitted to the SBA ...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

Analysis of the implementation of the Small Business Ac...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

Summary of the method of analysing the recommendations
...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

1.2. Inventory of relevant actions
After deciding which...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

Principle 1: Entrepreneurship.

1

Entrepreneurship and...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

In addition, the first pilot block release experiments ...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

2

An environment favourable to entrepreneurship

2.1 C...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

2.2 The Walloon Grand Prix for Entrepreneurship (GPWE)
...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

Good practice:

In 2011, in partnership with the Union ...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

3

Support for business creation

3.1 The Airbag plan
T...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

Based on the premise that business creation plans set w...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

3.4 Supporting the development of social employment com...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

4

Business transfer

4.1 Tax
In Wallonia, inheritance ...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

4.3 Assistance with transfers
SOWACCESS, apart from its...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

5

Openness to female and immigrant entrepreneurs

5.1 ...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

5.2 Immigrant entrepreneurs
In order to enrich the Wall...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

Principle 1: Entrepreneurship
Recommendation

Partially...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

Principle 2: Second chance

1

A positive attitude in s...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

3

Promoting success

In order to avoid entrepreneurs n...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

4

In conclusion

Following analysis of the implementat...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

Principle 3: Think Small First

Belgium being a Federal...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

Good practice:
"Together let's make things simple" plan...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

In addition, following the evaluations of the weight of...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

3

In conclusion

Analysis of this third area of focus ...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

Principle 3: Think Small First
Recommendation

Partiall...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

Principle 4: Business-friendly administration of SMEs

...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

2.2 The principle of trust
In order to lighten the admi...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

2.3 Carrefour Enterprise Bank (Banque Carrefour des ent...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

3

The introduction of a point of contact

Wallonia has...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

In addition, since 2012 Wallonia has had an information...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

Principle 4: Business-friendly administration of SMEs
R...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

Principle 5: Facilitating SMEs' participation in public...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

1.2 Division of public contracts into lots

Dividing pu...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

1.4 Dialogue between SMEs and the contracting authoriti...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

3

In conclusion

Implementation of the European Commis...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

Principle 5: Facilitating SMEs' participation in public...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

Principle 6: Facilitating SMEs' access to finance, in p...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

of a micro-loan (maximum of €25,000), may be for up to ...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

GOOD PRACTICE:
The SOCAMUT automatic combination produc...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

3

Introduction of "one-stop-shops"

In Wallonia, there...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

4

In conclusion

Following analysis of the implementat...
Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique

Principle 7: Encouraging SMEs to take greater advantage...
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)
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Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)

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This report explains how the Walloon Region implement and monitor the Small Business Act (SBA).

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Annual report of the Walloon SME Envoy (2012)

  1. 1. DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR ECONOMY, EMPLOYMENT AND RESEARCH SPW | Editions COMPETITIVENESS AND INNOVATION DEPARTMENT Economy ANNUAL REPORT OF THE WALLOON SME ENVOY – 2012 Daniel COLLET Analysis of the implementation of the Small Business Act’s recommendations in Wallonia
  2. 2. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique
  3. 3. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique Preface In a context of major institutional, economic and financial crisis, Wallonia has decided to take its destiny into its own hands and create a favourable environment to help SMEs face the challenges of a world in deep and rapid change. In fact, the Walloon government introduced an economic revitalization plan several years ago through the Marshall 2.Green Plan (Plan Marshall 2.Vert). In this context, the Minister JeanClaude Marcourt responsible for the Economy, SMEs, Foreign Trade and New Technologies placed innovation and the competitiveness of businesses at the heart of the actions carried out, recognizing that entrepreneurship, creativity and SMEs constitute a key lever for Wallonia's development. It is from this perspective that in 2010, Wallonia, taking over the Presidency of the Competitiveness Council, supported the Commission's proposals designed to boost innovation in all its forms and supported the deployment of the European Small Business Act. In 2011, a pioneer in this field, Wallonia launched a regional version emphasizing the topics deemed to be the most critical by the socio-economic partners consulted, namely: support for entrepreneurship, access to finance, the promotion of innovation strategies and growing internationalisation affecting SMEs in particular. This report presents an assessment of the implementation of the SBA in Wallonia for the year 2012. It analysis all the European Commission's recommendations relevant to Wallonia and compares them with the actions introduced by the Region. This report, the second of its kind, has been the subject of wide consultation via a collaborative method involving all the public actors concerned. In this report you will discover the process that the Walloon Region has introduced to ensure that the SBA is implemented, as well as the mechanisms used for monitoring and reporting back to our various interlocutors. I would like to believe that this integrated process could serve as a source of inspiration for other Administrations at European level and, why not, be identified as good practice for promoting SMEs as the central actors in our continent's economic redeployment. Daniel COLLET Walloon SME Envoy Head of Department Service Public de Wallonie 2
  4. 4. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique Contents Preface ..................................................................................................................................................... 2 Introduction ............................................................................................................................................. 5 1 "Small Business Act": the European context .................................................................................. 5 2 Integration of the "Small Business Act" into the Walloon political agenda.................................... 6 3 The implementation of the SBA in Wallonia .................................................................................. 8 Analysis of the implementation of the Small Business Act's recommendations in Wallonia ................ 11 Principle 1: Entrepreneurship. ............................................................................................................... 14 1 Entrepreneurship and youth........................................................................................................... 14 2 An environment favourable to entrepreneurship ........................................................................... 16 3 Support for business creation ........................................................................................................ 19 4 Business transfer............................................................................................................................ 22 5 Openness to female and immigrant entrepreneurs ........................................................................ 24 6 In conclusion ................................................................................................................................. 25 Principle 2: Second chance.................................................................................................................... 27 1 A positive attitude in society with regard to re-entrepreneurs....................................................... 27 2 A second chance supported like the first ....................................................................................... 27 3 Promoting success ......................................................................................................................... 28 4 In conclusion ................................................................................................................................. 29 Principle 3: Think Small First ............................................................................................................... 30 1 Compliance of future regulations with the "think small first" principle........................................ 30 2 Improving the regulatory environment .......................................................................................... 31 3 In conclusion ................................................................................................................................. 33 Principle 4: Business-friendly administration of SMEs ........................................................................ 35 1 Shortening of time periods ............................................................................................................ 35 2 Reducing requests for information ................................................................................................ 35 3 The introduction of a point of contact ........................................................................................... 38 4 "Services" and a "one stop shop" directive.................................................................................... 38 5 In conclusion ................................................................................................................................. 39 Principle 5: Facilitating SMEs' participation in public procurement .................................................... 41 1 Public procurement........................................................................................................................ 41 2 State support .................................................................................................................................. 43 3 In conclusion ................................................................................................................................. 44
  5. 5. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique Principle 6: Facilitating SMEs' access to finance, in particular venture capital and micro-loans ......... 46 1 Improving access to finance .......................................................................................................... 46 2 The "credit ombudsman" ............................................................................................................... 47 3 Introduction of "one-stop-shops" .................................................................................................. 49 4 In conclusion ................................................................................................................................. 50 Principle 7: Encouraging SMEs to take greater advantage of the potential of the single market ......... 51 Principle 8: Promoting the strengthening of qualifications within SMEs, as well as innovation in all its forms...................................................................................................................................................... 52 1 Encouraging SMEs' internationalisation in particular via participation in clusters. ...................... 52 2 Encouraging SMEs to become high-growth companies................................................................ 53 3 Promoting the development of SMEs' skills with regard to research and innovation ................... 54 4 Transnational research activities ................................................................................................... 60 5 Participation in the implementation of the European "Lead market" initiative ............................. 61 6 In conclusion ................................................................................................................................. 61 Principle 9: Enabling SMEs to turn environmental challenges into opportunities................................ 63 1 Supporting investment in the areas of the environment and energy .............................................. 65 2 Helping SMEs to adapt their activities in line with a sustainable economy .................................. 67 3 Taking measures to encourage SMEs and Very Small Enterprises to take advantage of simplified systems of the EMAS type, such as "EMAS-EASY" ........................................................................... 69 4 In conclusion ................................................................................................................................. 69 Principle 10: Supporting SMEs to take advantage of the growth of markets outside the EU ............... 71 1 Sponsorship of SMEs by large companies .................................................................................... 71 2 Walloon support for the establishment of SME networks ............................................................. 72 3 Raising awareness and skills directed towards international markets ........................................... 72 4 In conclusion ................................................................................................................................. 75 Results of the analysis ........................................................................................................................... 76 1 Global overview ............................................................................................................................ 76 2 Overview by topic ......................................................................................................................... 77 3 Working perspectives for 2013 ..................................................................................................... 79 Appendix 1: Members of the SBA Steering Committee ....................................................................... 81 Appendix 2: "Small Business Act" recommendations deemed not relevant: ........................................ 83 4
  6. 6. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique Introduction 1 "Small Business Act": the European context The "Small Business Act for Europe" 1 was adopted in December 2008 under the French Presidency of the European Union. It comprises ten principles expressed as actions to be implemented by the European Commission and Member States. It also specifies a set of legislative measures (directives and regulations), the majority of which have been adopted, such as for example the Late Payment Directive concerning which the European Union reached agreement under the Belgian Presidency (2nd half of 2010). When the SBA was adopted in December 2008, the European Council had set three areas of priority action for the implementation of the SBA: application across the board of the "Think Small First" principle at European decision-making process level, access to finance and access to markets. In February 2011, the European commission published a second communication concerning the "Re-examination of the Small Business Act for Europe" 2 which was endorsed by the Competitiveness Council on 30 and 31 May 20113. This new communication assessed the actions carried out in the context of the Small Business Act for Europe" adopted in 2008 and proposes several new actions in order to reinforce the current process and formulates 29 additional recommendations to improve implementation of the areas deemed to be priorities for this re-examination: smart regulation, access to finance, access to markets and entrepreneurship as well as enterprise creation. In its Communication, the Commission called for improved implementation of the SBA at national and regional level and asked Member States to appoint SME Envoys in order to stimulate the implementation of the SBA in their respective countries/regions. Following the Council's conclusions, Wallonia decided to launch a "Walloon SBA" and to appoint a regional SME Envoy, bearing in mind the Belgian institutional context and the division of competences relating to support for SMEs between the Federal State and the Federal Entities. In January 2013, the Commission published a new "Action plan for Entrepreneurship 2020". This plan is divided into three pillars: • It emphasises the need to induce a deep cultural change in Europe, thanks to education focusing on effective entrepreneurship. • It contains specific measures designed to help candidate entrepreneurs belonging to certain social groups, such as young people, women, senior citizens, migrants and the unemployed. 1 European Commission communication, A "Small Business Act" for Europe, COM(2008) 394 final. European Commission communication, Re-examination of the "Small Business Act" for Europe, COM(2011) 78 final. 3 Council of the European Union, Conclusions of the Council concerning the Re-examination of the "Small Business Act" for Europe, 31 May 2011. 2 5
  7. 7. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique • In addition, it aims to eliminate obstacles to entrepreneurship, in particular by facilitating access to finance, reducing administrative procedures and giving a second chance to entrepreneurs who have suffered from non-fraudulent bankruptcy. This new Plan returns to certain themes in the SBA by accenting them. It will not therefore be subject to specific analysis in this report. Important note: in the rest of this document, the term "Small Business Act" will be employed to designate both communications presented here: namely the Small Business Act for Europe and the Re-examination of the Small Business Act for Europe. 2 Integration of the "Small Business Act" into the Walloon political agenda Wallonia's economic fabric is essentially composed of SMEs. This preponderance is especially marked in the share represented by these companies in Wallonia's productive structure1. Given this reality, most regional policies generally target SMEs and de facto apply the "Think Small First" principle across the board with regard to financial support, innovation, internationalisation and industrial policy. However, in order to strengthen this recognition, the CESW in its 2010-20142 memorandum invited the Walloon Government to build on the measures developed in the "Small Business Act" presented by the European commission on 25 June 2008, by making the theme of support for SMEs a specific priority for the next Walloon Government. The social partners highlighted five themes in particular where government action needed to be reinforced: access to public procurement, a second chance, the financing of companies, services in support of SMEs and innovation in SMEs. This request was reiterated in the regional policy declaration in which the Walloon Government announced that it wished to launch a true Walloon plan for SMEs building on the European Small Business Act in order to make the spirit of initiative and entrepreneurship the true foundation of Walloon dynamism, in accordance with the principles of sustainable development.3 1 78% very small enterprises, 17% small enterprises, 4% medium-sized enterprises. "Distribution of local units by location and by importance class 31/12/2010" ONSS 2 CESRW, Memorandum 2009, p20-26 3 Declaration of Walloon regional policy 2009-2014, p28-29. 6
  8. 8. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique A Pact in support of initiative was launched in the context of the Plan Marshall 2.vert (area 4measure 1) based around four priority areas: • To promote a spirit of entrepreneurship and to encourage business creation. • To facilitate entrepreneurship, support enterprise growth and facilitate transfers. • To provide a favourable financial environment (with amongst other things the objective of increasing the supply of private venture capital). • To position Wallonia at international level1. As shown by the follow-up report on the implementation of the Plan Marshall 2.vert dated November 2012, produced by the SPW's Cross-sectional Strategies Cell2, most other measures specified in the initiative support Pact have been implemented or are in the process of implementation. It is in this context that, in the first half of 2011, the Minister of the Economy and SMEs launched a reflection process designed to strengthen the implementation of the "Small Business Act" in Wallonia in line with the declaration of regional policy and the Region's competencies. Specifically, several projects have been launched in order to propose new advances for Walloon SMEs. These projects are grouped under four themes3: • • • • Entrepreneurship Internationalisation Finance Innovation This policy framework was endorsed by the Walloon Government (decisions of 13 October 2011 and 23 March 2012). It is important to note at this stage that a great number of actions supporting the implementation of the SBA are financed via the Plan Marshall 2. Vert. Finally, it also needs to be emphasised that in the context of Belgian federalism, the 10 principles contained in the Small Business Act are not totally transposable into the arsenal of regional policies. Some principles in the Small Business Act are in fact linked to federal competences and their implementation does not depend therefore on the Walloon authorities. 1 Plan Marshall 2.vert, p24-30. http://gouvernement.wallonie.be/sites/default/files/nodes/story/4817-pm2vertrapportnovembre2012.pdf 3 It should be noted that access to public procurement is part of a more global administrative simplification plan: the "Together let's make things simple" plan. 2 7
  9. 9. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique 3 The implementation of the SBA in Wallonia In order to ensure the smooth implementation of the SBA, the Walloon Region initiated a dynamic of dialogue and action gravitating around the Walloon SME Envoy. An SME Envoy for Wallonia In application of the European recommendation, Daniel COLLET, Head of Department of the Competitiveness and Innovation Department of the Wallonia Public Service, was appointed regional "SME Envoy" by the Walloon Government (GW 13 October 2011). This mission has three aspects: • To ensure improved communication to the various federal points of contact and the Belgian "SME Envoy" of Walloon measures that are part of the implementation of the Small Business Act. • Periodically to evaluate the implementation of the European recommendations included in the "Small Business Act" and its re-examination in consultation with the actors in the field and the different Public Interest Bodies (PIB) concerned based on existing reporting mechanisms amongst others in the context of the Plan Marshall 2.Vert. • To formulate recommendations relating to new actions to be implemented in order to strengthen Walloon political support for SMEs. Consistent with European Union recommendations, these will be discussed with the social partners and a high-level group of experts1. Monitoring of the Walloon SBA In order to facilitate the implementation of the SBA, a Steering committee has been created in order to maximise the synergies between the representatives of the Minister of the Economy and the SMEs and the Walloon actors concerned by one or other aspects of the SBA's 10 areas of focus. It therefore involves members of the administration, Public Interest Bodies, etc. (listed in appendix 1 of this document). This body, which is controlled by the SME Envoy and his cell, is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the SBA in Wallonia. It is also responsible for evaluating the actions of enterprises, setting itself new targets and initiating new actions. Through this Steering Committee, the SME Envoy therefore endeavours to bring together all the actors in order to review the progress of each file. Once a year, he organises more comprehensive monitoring, which serves as a basis for the preparation of this report. 1 cf the High Level Group proposed in the context of the Walloon SBA. 8
  10. 10. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique Report on the implementation of the Walloon SBA It appeared necessary to systematise the analysis of the implementation of the SBA in Wallonia and the priority projects chosen by the Government and social partners. This is why the SME Envoy prepares an annual report concerning the implementation of the SBA's ten areas of focus in Wallonia. This report, in addition to its main part, comprises two appendices: • The first is designed to objectivise the situation of Walloon SMEs and the framework conditions that concern them in the light of the SBA's ten areas of focus (section prepared with the support of the IWEPS). • The second includes a report from the SME Parliament (which took place on 06 November 2012). This report serves as a report for the European Commission but also for all the Walloon actors taking part in the process. It also serves to highlight Walloon good practice. In addition, it is also used to provide information for the annual Fact sheet prepared by the European Commission for all the federal and federated authorities in Belgium. This exercise also provides information for inclusion in the Walloon and Belgian reports prepared annually in respect of the National Reform Plan (Europe Strategy 2020), as well as for the annual bilateral meeting between the Commission and the Belgian Authorities relating to industrial and innovation policy and the entrepreneurial climate. Consulting the actors The Walloon Economic and Social Council (Conseil Economique et Social de Wallonie - CESW) The Walloon Economic and Social Council (CESW) is the joint regional institution for social consultation and dialogue and includes representatives of the employers and union organizations. Once a year, the SME Envoy presents his annual report to it. The SME Parliament The SME Parliament was created in 2011 in order to consult business bosses directly concerning the implementation of the SBA in Wallonia. Apart from keeping them informed of the proper operation of the process, the initiative is designed to be participative. In fact, entrepreneurs are questioned directly concerning the different aspects of the SBA they would like to see improved during the next year. 9
  11. 11. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique After a vote, these proposals are submitted to the SBA Steering Committee to evaluate their feasibility. Full details about the operation of the SME Parliament can be found in the second appendix to this report. The High Level Group In order to analyse possible new avenues of action to improve the implementation of the Walloon SBA, the Minister of the Economy and SMEs has demonstrated his desire to bring together a High Level Group on a regular basis composed of business bosses, representatives of the academic world and the civil service, as well as the social partners via the CESW's Economy Commission. Its vocation is to stimulate the SBA implementation process in Wallonia via new inputs (analyses relating to the issues encountered and projects to be started). Depending on the theme of the meeting, various experts are invited to provide clarification on the subject. 10
  12. 12. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique Analysis of the implementation of the Small Business Act's recommendations in Wallonia Methodology used 1.1. Inventory of the relevant recommendations The Small Business Act for Europe is a framework document that defines ten principles to implement in order to support SMEs. In order to guide the implementation of each of these ten principles, the European Commission has drawn up a list of recommendations to be followed at community level, but also at Member State level. For this study, which is designed to evaluate the implementation of the SBA's ten focus areas in Wallonia, we needed initially to list all the Commission's recommendations in order to identify those that come within regional competence. Out of the 69 recommendations made in the two communications Small Business Act for Europe1 and Re-examination of the Small Business Act for Europe2, only 42 recommendations were deemed relevant3 for analysis at Walloon level. Only one of the 42 recommendations identified could not be evaluated4 : the analysis required to examine its degree of implementation in Wallonia correctly requires an in-depth examination of all the regional mechanisms which was not possible in the context of this analysis. A list of the recommendations not examined and the reasons why they were not deemed to be relevant can be found in Appendix 2 in this document. 1 Communication of the Commission to the European Parliament, to the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and to the Committee of the Regions - "Think Small First": Think Small First - A "Small Business Act" for Europe, COM (2008) 394 final. 2 Communication of the Commission to the European Parliament, to the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and to the Committee of the Regions – "Re-examination of the "Small Business Act" for Europe", COM(2011) 78 final. 3 It should be noted that no recommendations relating to principle 7 were deemed relevant, hence its absence from the analysis carried out under the following point. 4 SBA-2.2: -"Ensure that those that are trying again are placed on an equal footing with newly formed companies, in particular in the context of support schemes." 11
  13. 13. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique Summary of the method of analysing the recommendations Recommendations Principles Identified Relevant Analysed 1. Entrepreneurship 9 9 9 2. Second chance 5 2 1 3. Think Small First 11 5 5 4. Business-friendly administration of SMEs 8 4 4 5. Public procurement 6 6 6 6. Funding 8 4 4 7. Access to the single market 8 0 0 8. Innovation & skills 6 5 5 9. Environment 5 4 4 10. Internationalisation 3 3 3 TOTAL 69 42 41 Finally, the degree of implementation of each of the recommendations deemed relevant was evaluated so that one of the following descriptions could be assigned: • Implemented: in the light of the information at our disposal, we were able to estimate that the different elements of the recommendation are being implemented in a sufficiently substantial manner. • Partially implemented: certain elements of the recommendation are being implemented but all of them are not being implemented in a sufficiently substantial manner. We also considered that the recommendation was partially implemented when measures to implement it were in the process of being introduced. • Not implemented: no elements exist indicating even partial application of the recommendation or implementation is not sufficiently substantial. You will find a table summarising the implementation of the Commission's recommendations at the end of each section. 12
  14. 14. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique 1.2. Inventory of relevant actions After deciding which recommendations were relevant for the Walloon Region, it was then necessary in a second phase, to identify Walloon actions that are part of the implementation of these ten principles This work was carried out by the SBA Cell set up within the Economic Policy Directorate (DGO6) in consultation with the SBA Steering Committee and in particular using the reporting tools introduced by the SPW (Plan Marshall 2.Vert)'s Cross-Sectional Strategies Cell1. This analysis of the implementation of the SBA's recommendations provides an overall view of support measures for SMEs, including the most recent ones implemented in the context of the initiative support Pact. Many of the actions and mechanisms listed below are also funded in respect of the Plan Marshall 2.Vert. As mentioned previously, it is important to note that, since the implementation of some of the SBA's principles comes within the competences of the Federal State, this overview shows some imbalances in the implementation of the European SBA's 10 principles at Walloon level. These do not necessarily reflect shortcomings but are the result of the division of competencies that exists at Belgian level with regard to policy in support of SMEs. 1 Plan Marshall 2.vert - Annual report 2010, February 2011 Note to the government "Measure IV.1. – Launch an initiative support – Follow-up Pact", May 2011 13
  15. 15. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique Principle 1: Entrepreneurship. 1 Entrepreneurship and youth 1.1 Primary and secondary education For several years Wallonia has done what is necessary to include entrepreneurship across-theboard within primary and secondary education. In order to help students acquire this skill deemed to be cross-sectional in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation education programs, Walloon teachers' awareness is regularly raised by a team of agents from the Agency for Economic Stimulus. These agents provide a selection of modules intended for students, enabling them to work on the competencies necessary for the development of entrepreneurship which is a wider concept than that of an enterprise spirit since it essentially consists of a willingness to act to create change and innovation, and to create projects. During the last five academic years no less than 125,000 students have been reached by these actions entitled "entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial projects" and over 100,000 teaching tools have been distributed throughout Wallonia. By mid-2012, the cumulative penetration rate for visits by ASE agents to educational establishments in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation was 91%. Various teaching tools have been developed and distributed: "Little lessons in enthusiasm and creativity", the cartoon strip "Antoine and Laura create their company", "CréaLoie", "Planet entrepreneurship", "Kid attitude", "50 minutes to become an entrepreneur", ... The "www.apprendre-a-entreprendre.be" website provides access to digital versions of most of the tools. 1.2 Universities and Colleges of Higher Education Conscious of the need to raise awareness with regard to entrepreneurship at all levels of education, the ASE provides financial support in particular to programs such as minienterprises, offers sessions to raise awareness led by company bosses as well as information sessions concerning support mechanisms for entrepreneurs available within Wallonia's Universities and Colleges of Higher Education. 14 E N T R E P R E N E U R S H I P
  16. 16. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique In addition, the first pilot block release experiments in higher education started at the beginning of the 2011-2012 academic year in four new masters: production management, site management (with an emphasis on sustainable construction), analytical engineering (for the purpose of biochemistry) and Facility Management and two minor programs in entrepreneurship. Intermediate evaluation of the experiment is currently in progress. 1.3 Teachers The ASE also organises symposia involving discussion about the relationships between the education world and business. For the last three years it has also offered "Entrepreneurship Workshops" designed for teachers and trainers. GOOD PRACTICE: "What Needs to be Discovered… about the Business world" In order to raise awareness among future teachers concerning the importance of developing entrepreneurship in a school context, the ASE, in collaboration with "Planète Metiers" a.s.b.l. has organised acculturation courses for future teaching graduates. Thus in 2012, 140 students were given the opportunity to review the interactions, existing, necessary and to be developed, between the world of Teaching and that of Business by being immersed in the day-to-day experience of one of them. 1.4 Bringing the world of teaching and the world of business closer to each other The Spirit of Entrepreneurship forum regularly brings people together from the world of teaching, of business and intermediation concerning the extended topic of entrepreneurship. 1.5 Raising young people's awareness - Young people and the world of business "Junior Self-Employed" courses organised by the IFAPME (Walloon Institute for the blockrelease training of the self-employed and small and medium-sized enterprises) is intended for young people aged between 15 and 20 years. The aim is to enable them to see the life of a self-employed person or an entrepreneur, and to discover the everyday realities of business life. It is also an opportunity to discover trades that can be learned via block-release training. 15 E N T R E P R E N E U R S H I P
  17. 17. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique 2 An environment favourable to entrepreneurship 2.1 Company information portal In order to facilitate access to information required for entrepreneurship in Wallonia, the Walloon Government has entrusted the ASE with the creation of a portal, a user-friendly index1, offering an overall and simplified view of the services dedicated to enterprise creation and entrepreneurship, from the point of view of the company life-cycle. This portal supports entrepreneurs on their journey through the different phases of their company's life (creation, finance, development, transfer) providing a real toolbox in order to give concrete expression to the various concepts involved. In particular, this toolbox provides easy access to all the types of support offered by the Region, a variety of test tools, points of contact in Wallonia and even various legal explanations. Physical interaction has not been forgotten thanks to a special partnership between the ASE and the Directorate-General for Economy, Employment and Research (DG06) that has led to the appointment of an information officer, responsible in particular for answering queries sent by Internet users in the context of their use of the portal. 1 http://www.infos-entreprises.be/fr 16 E N T R E P R E N E U R S H I P
  18. 18. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique 2.2 The Walloon Grand Prix for Entrepreneurship (GPWE) Launched by the Agency for Economic Stimulus (ASE), with the encouragement of the Walloon Minister of the Economy, the GPWE is in its fifth year. The Walloon Government's ambition through this competition is threefold: • To highlight the support structures for business creation and development. • To serve as a showcase for exemplary Walloon entrepreneurs. • To share experiences of success that convey a positive image of Wallonia. The Grand prix aims to highlight Walloon companies whether they are "Starters", "Growing" or "Recovering", categories to which two cross-sectional themes should be added: the "Female Entrepreneur Prize" and the "Sustainable Development Prize". In the context of this competition, it is not just financial success that is taken into account but the potential shown by the entrepreneurs and their companies, their thirst for entrepreneurship, their creativity and their originality… In 2012, 147 applications were received. 17 E N T R E P R E N E U R S H I P
  19. 19. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique Good practice: In 2011, in partnership with the Union of the Middle Classes and the Walloon Enterprise Union, the Minister of the Economy initiated the creation of an SME Parliament. The aim of this annual event is to consult SMEs interactively and directly concerning avenues of action that need to be followed in the context of strengthening the implementation of the "Small Business Act" in Wallonia. As during the previous year, this event was held in November 2012 in the context of European SME week in the presence of the European SME Envoy, Daniel Calleja Crespo, and brought together over 200 representatives of SMEs. The SME Parliament works in two phases: committee work with a limited number of SMEs and a plenary session where all the SMEs present are invited to express their opinion on projects that need to be undertaken in the context of the Walloon SBA. Based on the votes of the SMEs present, the Walloon SME Envoy, in collaboration with the Walloon Economic and Social Council (CESW), as well as the various Public Interest Bodies, defined the priority measures in response to the demands expressed by the SMEs. For each measure, a pilot body is appointed. Through a Steering Committee involving all the public actors concerned, the SME Envoy endeavours to bring all the actors together regularly in order to review the progress of each action. Prior to each new meeting of the SME Parliament, the organizers conduct a review of the state of progress of the measures voted for at previous meetings. It is important to note that certain advances submitted by the SME Parliament as well as by the European Commission do not come within regional competences and are therefore outside the scope of the Walloon SBA. Particular attention is however paid to them in the context of the collaboration process introduced at federal level under the auspices of the national SME Envoy and in the context of the preparation of the SBA factsheet prepared by the Enterprise GD with the assistance of national and regional experts. 18 E N T R E P R E N E U R S H I P
  20. 20. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique 3 Support for business creation 3.1 The Airbag plan The Walloon public employment and training service (FOREM) gives anyone wanting to start a business an opportunity to benefit from "Airbag" funds. Specifically, this mechanism can be used to obtain a maximum of 12,500 euros over a period of two years, paid in four instalments. Through this incentive, the Walloon Government aims to encourage and support professional transition to the status of mainly self-employed. The objective of the measure is to encourage entrepreneurship in the Walloon Region and to increase the number of jobs that exist through self-creation, to release jobs formerly occupied and in the long-term, to create additional jobs when the business has developed. Three categories of beneficiaries are targeted: people that have been self-employed on a supplemental basis for over three years, people starting out for the first time with selfemployment as their main occupation and people starting out for the second time with selfemployment as their main occupation with a minimum of two years and a maximum of five years between the two businesses. 3.2 Preparation grant Since 2001, the Walloon Region has offered "Preparation grants". This mechanism is intended for anyone in Wallonia wishing to create a company, a shop or a business on an independent basis and who has an original and realistic idea or project. The grant of €12,500 can be used to finance costs related to analysis of the project's feasibility and to setting it up (set-up study, consultancy, intellectual property, documentation, equipment required for setting up the project, production of a detailed 3-year business plan, etc.). 19 E N T R E P R E N E U R S H I P
  21. 21. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique Based on the premise that business creation plans set within a support structure have a statistically greater than average success rate in the first three years, the ASE offers project initiators support via an approved Support Officer throughout the phase covered by the Grant. 3.3 Self-creation of self-employment Support Structures for the Self-Creation of Self-Employment (SAACE) offer specialist support for job-seekers who want to become self-employed or start their own business. These services approved by Wallonia's Public Service offer: • Free support and a maximum of 24 months monitoring. • The option of testing a project before finally launching it onto the market. • Hosting of the businesses created by the candidate, the time to check the economic viability of a project. Self-employed status is often of concern to job-seekers because they risk losing their social protection if their plans do not succeed. Through the support of this service: • Either the project demonstrates its viability and candidates can safely adopt selfemployment status. • Or the test is not conclusive and the person concerned retains all their social rights. The service then offers them further direction to one or more training or integration specialists. 41% of the projects supported in 2011 led to the self-creation of self-employment. 20 E N T R E P R E N E U R S H I P
  22. 22. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique 3.4 Supporting the development of social employment companies 158 social employment companies have now been approved by, and are supported with grants from, the Walloon Region. They have helped provide employment for 3,887 workers, the majority of whom were vulnerable workers with few basic qualifications and, often, jobseekers of long standing. As such, they constitute an essential focus for the development of the Walloon Region's social economy and offer sustainable and quality job opportunities to workers in vulnerable situations. An annual budget of almost 11 million euros has been dedicated to the development of social employment companies. The entrepreneur pack E N T R E P R E N E U R S H I P Through this pack, which includes several Plan Marshall 2.Vert tools, the Walloon Region encourages Wallonia's people to become entrepreneurs. The launch of this product was the subject of a major communication campaign throughout the Region, targeted at women in particular. Specifically, it provides the opportunity to apply to SOCAMUT for financial support (combination product: a bank guarantee and an additional loan) or to SOWACCESS to restart or transfer an SME. (Both these measures are explained under points 6.1 and 4.3 of this document). 3.5 Business creation training vouchers Training vouchers for business creation allow project initiators to benefit from: • Customized support in preparing their business plans. • Suitable training given by training operators approved by the Walloon Region. Project initiators pay 20% that is €2.5, of the purchase value of business creation training vouchers (€12.5), the balance being covered by the Region. 21
  23. 23. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique 4 Business transfer 4.1 Tax In Wallonia, inheritance and donation taxes for the transfer of businesses are, under certain conditions, reduced to 0%. 4.2 Systems for bringing companies that can be transferred and potential buyers together In order to bring buyers and sellers together, the Walloon Company for funding and guaranteeing SMEs (SOWALFIN) created a special subsidiary in 2006 dedicated to the transfer of SMEs and Very Small Enterprises: the Walloon Company for Business Acquisitions and Transfers (SOWACCESS). In this respect, it has set up a platform1 that currently covers Belgium, the Netherlands and France in order to put potential buyers and sellers in touch with each other. Since the creation of its platform, SOWACCESS has dealt with 600 potential buyers, 1000 sellers and has facilitated the transfer of 56 companies and preserved 420 jobs. The development of a "Retail" platform (retail sector, including artisans, catering, leisure,…) is planned for the first half of 2013. Good practice: In order to improve business transfers at European level, Wallonia, through SOWACCESS, has combined with two French (CRA) and Dutch (MKbase) partners to create an association: TRANSEO. Transeo's task is to exchange good practice with regard to business transfers between private professionals, the public and academics in Europe, but also to raise awareness concerning the issues raised by business transfers in Europe and to work on specific solutions. Currently Transéo has 41 members (public, private and academic) from 15 countries. http://www.transeo-association.eu/ 1 This platform is recognized as good practice in the Commission's new guide, see p. 30: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/sme/regional-smepolicies/documents/no.3_transfer_of_business_en.pdf 22 E N T R E P R E N E U R S H I P
  24. 24. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique 4.3 Assistance with transfers SOWACCESS, apart from its relationship mission, raises entrepreneurs' awareness concerning the need to be well prepared for the acquisition and sale of a company and the need for professional support. By way of an example, it has placed "Test repreneur" (Buyer test) and "Diagnostic transmission" (Transfer diagnostics) on-line which encourage prospective sellers and buyers to "ask themselves the right questions" before initiating a transfer procedure. It also provides "Buyers' clubs" that can be used by prospective buyers to mature their buyout plans as well as "Buyers' grants" to fund pre or post buyout consultancy missions. The Walloon mechanism for supporting business transfers is also based around action by the ASE and transfer go-betweens (ART). Actions carried out by the ARTs are developed in consultation with SOWACCESS with a view to the complete consistency of the mechanism. The work of these transfer go-betweens involves the following: • To develop the mind-set of the selling owners. • To reduce the prejudices they may have concerning the practical aspects of selling their company (technical difficulties, size of the task, cost of the operation, etc.). • To raise awareness and increase the number of potential buyers in Wallonia, takeover being an alternative to creation. • To strengthen the skills of potential buyers with regard to buying out companies. • To facilitate the professionalism of the operators and advisers involved in the transfer process. To this end, on the basis of a method constructed with ASE and SOWACCESS, the ARTs have developed a series of actions in three different forms: • Conferences to raise awareness among sellers, prescribers and buyers concerning the transfer of a business. • Workshops designed to prepare the participants for the transfer of a business. • Personal advisors in the context of a sale or buyout with a value of less than €500,000. 23 E N T R E P R E N E U R S H I P
  25. 25. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique 5 Openness to female and immigrant entrepreneurs 5.1 Female entrepreneurs In the context of raising awareness to Entrepreneurship and the promotion of entrepreneurs, the ASE encourages the promotion of equality in all its forms. Consequently, it supports female entrepreneurship via initiatives developed by Walloon operators like the UCM1 for example, and its "Diane network". This network, supported by the Walloon Region, has the task of promoting the growth of female entrepreneurship. In this context, this network offers various services to its members: • Support for business creation. • Access to training and workshops designed to build entrepreneurial skills. • The option of benefitting from support and advice from an experienced woman boss... It should also be noted that this network coordinates the "Belgian network of European ambassadors for female entrepreneurship" which is part of the "female entrepreneurship ambassadors’ European network" and participates in the "Female entrepreneurs Mentors Network". These two initiatives are also supported by the European Commission in the context of the implementation of the Small Business Act for Europe. In this context, this network of ambassadors for female entrepreneurship has in particular conducted a road show within higher education. In addition, since 2010 the ASE has also introduced a "woman entrepreneur prize" at the Walloon Entrepreneurship Grand Prix. In addition, in order to boost female entrepreneurship, the Walloon Government has agreed that additional resources should be provided. The measure consists of permitting SOWALFIN and/or SOCAMUT to facilitate access for women to funding through existing mechanisms (automatic combination product, counterguarantee through mutual guarantee companies, guaranteeing bank loans and the granting of subordinated loans). In 2011 and 2012, over 270 projects were supported through this measure. In order to continue it, the Walloon Government released 400,000 EUR in 2012 to be used to cover risks linked to calls on bank guarantees. 1 Union of middle classes (representative organization for SMEs and the self-employed): http://www.ucm.be 24 E N T R E P R E N E U R S H I P
  26. 26. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique 5.2 Immigrant entrepreneurs In order to enrich the Walloon entrepreneurial culture with other cultures and to promote an inter-cultural entrepreneurial world, the UCM in partnership with the European Social Fund introduced a mechanism to support entrepreneurs of diversity in order to help them materialize and succeed with their business projects in Wallonia. The project called "UCM Propulse" raises the awareness of people of foreign origin to business creation and helps them integrate into economic and social life. It also identifies what prevents them from accessing entrepreneurship and introduces specific and professional support. 6 In conclusion Following analysis of the implementation of this first area of focus of the SBA, it has been possible to conclude that the Walloon Region, conscious of its entrepreneurial deficit, has for several years deployed a wide range of measures in order to compensate for this lack of "entrepreneurial spirit". The measures introduced in Wallonia for this priority area of focus for the SBA, now widely exceed the expectations expressed by the European commission in the SBA It is thus possible to conclude that almost all the European Commission's recommendations have been implemented at Walloon level. Two recommendations have still only been partially dealt with, because they do not meet the criteria of being systematic. In fact, just as we cannot conclude that awareness of entrepreneurship is totally reflected in teacher training, it is impossible for us to affirm that cooperation between the world of business and the world of training is systematic. Participation in these training sessions for teachers as well as cooperation with the world of business when drafting programs still currently remain voluntary. In the light of the division of competences in Belgium, it is not possible for the Walloon Region to impose this because competence in the area of teaching is exclusively at community level. 25 E N T R E P R E N E U R S H I P
  27. 27. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique Principle 1: Entrepreneurship Recommendation Partially implemented Implemented number 1.1 Not implemented Details of the SBA recommendation To stimulate a spirit of innovation and enterprise among young people by making entrepreneurship a key element in school programs, in particular in general secondary education, and to ensure that this emphasis is E N T R E P R E N E U R S H I P x validly taken into account in the teaching materials. 1.2 To ensure that the importance of entrepreneurship is correctly reflected in teacher training. x 1.3 To strengthen cooperation with the world of business with a view to defining systematic strategies for x entrepreneurship training at all levels. 1.4 To ensure that taxation (and in particular gift taxes, taxation of dividends and capital taxes) does not needlessly x hinder the transfer of businesses. 1.5 To introduce systems to put companies that can be sold in touch with potential buyers. x 1.6 To propose tutoring and assistance for the transfer of businesses. x 1.7 To propose tutoring and assistance for female entrepreneurs. x 1.8 To propose tutoring and assistance to immigrants who want to become entrepreneurs. x 1.9 To develop, in the case of transferable businesses, user-friendly databases and markets benefiting from wide support, as well as supplying training and support to increase the number of successful business transfers , in x particular through communication campaigns designed to raise awareness among the interested parties to the need to prepare such transactions in advance. 26
  28. 28. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique Principle 2: Second chance 1 A positive attitude in society with regard to re-entrepreneurs Although there is no widespread communication campaign to raise economic actors' awareness of the need to adopt a positive attitude to re-entrepreneurs, Wallonia thinks that it is important to be able to support them financially. To this end, SOWALFIN communicates with the re-entrepreneur public concerning the financial products available to them in a targeted manner, focusing this communication mainly on the automatic combination product and the mutual guarantee companies' counterguarantee offered by its subsidiary SOCAMUT. In the context of the plan Marshall 2.vert, 110 guarantees (combination product)1 or counter-guarantees are reserved to support second chance entrepreneurship. In 2012, the Walloon Government granted additional resources for the measure designed to introduce a true second chance culture. To this end, an amount of 200,000 EUR has been released to cover the risks of calls on the guarantees/counter-guarantees by the banks/mutual guarantors. On the other hand, the UCM with the support of the Federal Investment Fund, offers individual coaching free of charge to failed entrepreneurs wishing to start again. 2 A second chance supported like the first It has not been possible to evaluate accurately, to what extent existing support schemes treat entrepreneurs and re-entrepreneurs equally. However, a careful examination of the mechanisms available to support business creation and development, as well as other mechanisms such as public procurement may make it possible to evaluate the degree of implementation of this recommendation. 1 SOCAMUT products, launched in 2011, intended to support an automatic finance product specifically intended for micro-enterprises, the self-employed, artisans and professionals in partnership with banks active in Wallonia. This product makes it possible to grant an automatic guarantee covering 75% of a main bank loan of a maximum of 25,000 EUR provided by a partner private bank, with the possibility of additional co-funding (SOCAMUT subordinated loan) of a maximum of 50% of the main bank loan. 27 S E C O N D C H A N C E
  29. 29. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique 3 Promoting success In order to avoid entrepreneurs needing a second chance, Wallonia set up the "Walloon centre for enterprises in difficulty" (CEd-W) in January 2013. When the situation proves necessary, the CEd-W aims to get the entrepreneur back on track and this in view of the appropriate degree of urgency, and to support companies in difficult situations so that company bosses can make the right choices and limit the negative impact on any third-parties. This mission is entrusted to the ASE which is supported by official partners (Belgium's French and German speaking bars – OBFG, Professional Institute of Approved Chartered Accountants and Tax Specialists – IPCF, Institute of Chartered Accountants and Tax Consultants – IEC, Walloon Credit Mediation Service – Concileo) to respond to emergency situations in the context of its "crisis management" mission, a mission representing consistent 1st level intervention in Walloon territory. In these circumstances, the CEd-W is equipped with a central telephone line for the whole of Wallonia. A free phone number has been set up to deal with queries from all companies in difficulty in Wallonia and to direct them to an appropriate field Councillor, at the same time ensuring geographical proximity between the CEd-W and companies in difficulty. These five field operators, approved as part of the mechanism following a call for candidates, rely on the expertise of official partners in the legal, tax, accounting and company law fields to provide companies in financial difficulty that call on the services of the CEd-W with adequate assistance. Finally, the mission entrusted to the ASE by the Walloon Government seeks to define consistent overall communication covering the whole of Walloon territory with a view to promoting the mechanism and envisaging raising companies' awareness as much as possible to the prevention of bankruptcies. 28 S E C O N D C H A N C E
  30. 30. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique 4 In conclusion Following analysis of the implementation of this second area of focus of the SBA, it is possible to conclude that, although there is a range of tools to promote a second chance at Walloon level, all the Commissions' recommendations have not totally been complied with. In fact, as far as the promotion of a "positive attitude on society's part with regard to entrepreneurs who want to make a new start" is concerned, it must be noted that no largescale communication campaign has been carried out yet in Wallonia to raise economic actors' awareness to the need to adopt a positive stance towards re-entrepreneurs, as suggested in the recommendation. Finally, a more thorough examination will be necessary to provide a true evaluation as to whether entrepreneurs who try again are placed on an equal footing with new entrepreneurs, although the tools specify this on paper. Principle 2: Second chance Recomm endation Implemented Partially Not implemented Details of the SBA recommendation implemented number 2.1 C H A N C E To encourage society to have a positive attitude towards entrepreneurs that want to make a x new start, for example via public information campaigns. 2.2 To ensure that those who try again are on an equal footing with newly formed S E C O N D To be evaluated in 2013 companies, in particular in the context of support schemes. 29
  31. 31. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique Principle 3: Think Small First Belgium being a Federal State, many measures permitting the implementation of this principal do not depend on the regional level. However, through various initiatives, the Region undertakes to ensure that future regulations comply with the "think small first" principle and to improve its regulatory environment. 1 Compliance of future regulations with the "think small first" principle Since 2007, Wallonia has applied the Kafka test1 which aims to evaluate new regulations in advance with the goal of achieving more economical legislation in terms of administrative burdens. There exists in Wallonia, therefore, firstly a systematic prior evaluation process (carried out by the author of the proposal using a simplified methodology) and secondly, an ad-hoc subsequent evaluation process (carried out by an external actor using a rigorous methodology2) designed to evaluate the impact of Walloon legislation in terms of administrative burdens. The Kafka test does not distinguish the specific impact on SMEs from the impact on all companies however. In addition, the application of an evaluation using the SCM (Standard Cost Model) model is not carried out in advance. However, in the context of the social consultation process, the Walloon Region's Economic and Social Council (CESW) is generally consulted by the Government prior to the presentation of legislation to the Walloon Parliament. This Council includes representative of the union and bosses' organizations including the UCM and UWE (organizations representing the self-employed and SMEs in Wallonia). In the context of this process, Walloon SME organizations are consulted at least eight weeks in advance of legislative proposals being presented. The CESW ensures that the results of the policy implemented are achieved, imposing a minimum of costs and burdens on companies. 1 The purpose of this measurement tool is to check in advance, whether new rules or policy measures cause needless formalities. It describes the administrative burden for the different target groups and directs the standards author towards the most appropriate solution in order to achieve a regulation that is as economical as possible in terms of administrative burdens. 2 Standard Cost Model method (SCM) 30 T H I N K S M A L L F I R S T
  32. 32. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique Good practice: "Together let's make things simple" plan Administrative simplification is strongly desired by users who often have the impression of being buried under administrative burdens (companies, citizens, local authorities as well as the non-profit sector). They are expressed by the slowness, frequency or cost of procedures. T H I N K In order to resolve this problem, the "Together let's make things simple 2010-2014 plan" was launched in February 2010 in order to reduce administrative burdens by 25 % for 2012 in line with European objectives. The plan structures projects according to six major objectives, covering the different areas of implementation of administrative simplification: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. S M A L L Simplifying and improving regulation. Simplifying and harmonizing processes. Dematerializing processes. Managing administrative documents electronically. Simplifying and dematerializing the collection and sharing of data. Improving information and communication with the target public. F I R S T Implementation will be evaluated in 2012. 2 Improving the regulatory environment Wallonia has tackled problems raised by the regulatory environment head on. In fact, the first of the six objectives in the "Together let's make things simple" Plan is called "Simplifying and improving regulation". In this first objective there are three cross-sectional measures (MT) and ten support actions (AS). 31
  33. 33. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique In addition, following the evaluations of the weight of administrative burdens conducted previously, measures designed to reduce the administrative burden are in the process of being implemented and should permit a reduction of the associated load ranging from 10 to 48% depending on the mechanisms concerned. In this way, Walloon and Wallonia-Brussels Federation Ministers decided in 2012 to remove no less than 233 obsolete texts from their body of legislation and regulations, in areas as diverse as culture, teaching, scientific research, SME's, housing, hunting and water. (MT 2). T H I N K Reduction of the standards corpus Wallonia Decrees FWB Total 3 1 4 Orders 21 107 128 Ministerial orders 1 / 1 Circulars / 100 100 25 208 S M A L L 233 Total Taking the repeal of texts already agreed on in 2008 and 2009 into account, this brings the number of texts repealed to a total of 430 (233 + 197). In September 2012, 86% of the projects and tools belonging to this priority area of focus in the Plan started show signs of a slight degree of delay (8%). The completion rate for this first objective "Simplifying and improving regulation" reached 30% at the mid-term.1 1 Together let's make things simple Plan, "Mid-term evaluation", http://easi.wallonie.be/servlet/Repository/Evaluation_%C3%A0_mi_parcours_du_Plan_Ensemble_Simplifions ___Rapport_final_version_finale.pdf?IDR=11995 32 F I R S T
  34. 34. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique 3 In conclusion Analysis of this third area of focus for the SBA underlines a whole series of advances at Regional level, the Region having undertaken to reduce its administrative burden by 25% and which consults all the actors concerned on a systematic basis in the context of social consultation at the CESW before each new legislative proposal. However, in the absence of an "SME test" as meant by the Commission, we cannot be completely sure that each new regional standard imposes a minimum of cost and administrative burdens on SMEs and that specific measures are always taken with regard to Very Small Enterprises. The recommendations made by the European Commission are not therefore being followed in full as yet in Wallonia. T H I N K S M A L L F I R S T 33
  35. 35. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique Principle 3: Think Small First Recommendation Partially implemented Implemented number 3.1 Not implemented Details of the SBA recommendation To systematically evaluate the impact of legislation on SMEs using an "SME test", while at the same time bearing in X mind the difference of size between companies, if need be. 3.2 To consult the interested parties, including SME organizations, at least eight weeks before presenting a legislative X T H I N K or administrative proposal likely to have an impact on companies. 3.3 To adopt, when it has not already been done, objectives with a degree of ambition comparable to that of the S M A L L X commitment to reduce administrative burdens by 25% in the EU by 2012, and to implement these objectives. 3.4 To ensure that the results of the policy implemented are achieved by imposing a minimum of costs and burdens on companies, and in particular by recourse to a judicious mix of instruments such as mutual recognition, self- X regulation or co-regulation to obtain the desired results. 3.5 F I R S T To introduce specific measures with regard to small and very small enterprises, such as exemptions, transition and exemption periods, in particular concerning supplying information and making declarations, and to implement other strategies suitable for these companies when it seems justified (And) to apply the "Think Small First" principle X not just to legislation, but also to administrative procedures relating to SMEs (for example by introducing a single interlocutor and reducing declaration obligations). 34
  36. 36. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique Principle 4: Business-friendly administration of SMEs 1 Shortening of time periods 1.1 Shortening of the time required to obtain licences and permits In Belgium, many licences and permits must still be obtained at federal level. However, it is the Region that issues the "single permit" covering town planning and environmental matters. The theoretical period of time required for a company to receive a permit, from the time it applies to the municipality and the decision is notified, varies between 140 calendar days (for class 1 permits) and 90 calendar days (for class 2 permits).1 However, it should be noted that firstly, the European recommendation is particularly ambitious and contradictory in terms of its requirements with regard to the environment and secondly, in the context of the "Together let's make things simple Plan", simplification and dematerialization of the process is in progress which should further shorten the time period involved.2 1.2 Shortening of payment periods Even if progress remains to be made at the level of payment periods for the Municipalities and Provinces, the situation in Wallonia is improving. In fact, the Region currently takes 31 days on average to pay invoices not exceeding €55,000, as against 42.5 days in 2011. In the case of invoices where amounts exceed €55,000, the Region has shortened the period from 113 days in 2010, to 79 days in 2011 and to 61 days in 2012. In addition, a consultant has been given the task of suggesting solutions with regard to improving payment periods. A European directive that will be transposed in 2013, requires a maximum period of 30 days. 2 Reducing requests for information 2.1 Public procurement In the context of public procurement, certain elements relating to applicants' personal circumstances, financial situation and experience are verified by the Contracting authority itself via the electronic Digiflow application which it uses to consult federal databases where authentic information is managed. In the past, this verification procedure was the candidate tenderers' responsibility who were responsible for providing the contracting authorities with the supporting evidence referred to above. B U S I N E S S F R I E N D L Y A D M I N I S T R A T I O N O F 1 These "establishments" (activities and installations) are divided into three classes according to their potential to cause pollution: class 1 for activities that have the greatest impact on health and the environment, class 3 for the least polluting activities, and class 2 for intermediate activities. An environmental permit is required for class 1 and 2 installations, while class 3 installations only require a declaration. 2 Project S.02 "Simplification and dematerialization of single and environmental permits", planned finalization for the end of 2012. This project has been included in the industry action plan. 35 S M E s
  37. 37. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique 2.2 The principle of trust In order to lighten the administrative load for users, therefore for entrepreneurs, a methodology of implementation on the basis of the principle of trust was accepted by the Walloon Government in July 2011. One year later, 31 pilot schemes have been validated by the Walloon and Wallonia-Brussels Federation (FWB) Governments with in certain cases, the removal of 50% of the documentary evidence initially requested. Applying the principle of trust means: • either to remove the need for users systematically to supply documentary evidence and/or certificates and a priori inspection. • or to replace this documentary evidence with an honour declaration and the possibility of a subsequent inspection. • or, finally, to use internal sources to obtain the data sought (use of authentic sources such as tax data, ONSS, BCSS...). B U S I N E S S F R I E N D L Y These mechanisms affect: • A variety of sectors (investment support, energy, waste collection and management, heritage, local powers, persons with disabilities...). • Miscellaneous trades and processes (allocate, check...). • Different target audiences (companies, SMEs, associations, non-profit sector, citizens, ...). The application of the principle of trust corresponds to a profound change in terms of administrative management. A priori inspection gives place to a rationale of support, in the final result to achieve better control since the focus is on what is relevant and which is studied more closely. We can speak of a real revolution in the relationship between administrations/public interest bodies and users, a revolution made possible thanks to the dynamism and involvement of civil servants wanting to take their users' reality into account and fundamentally simplify their lives. A D M I N I S T R A T I O N O F S M E s 36
  38. 38. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique 2.3 Carrefour Enterprise Bank (Banque Carrefour des entreprises - BCE) - Data Exchanges Access by the public authorities to authentic data or reference data is an important tool to reduce administrative burdens since it is accompanied for users, specifically with the removal of the obligation to supply this data to the Administration themselves. Wallonia has pursued initiatives in the area for several years but it is a long road because numerous rules, in particular concerning the protection of personal data, must be respected in order to avoid a "Big Brother" administration. The need to create a common Carrefour Bank for Wallonia and for the Wallonia-Brussels Federation is twofold: • To allow the authorities to cease collecting data already in their possession, already collected by other administrations or already made accessible through existing databanks. • To arrange things so that users are only asked for data not available elsewhere. This platform (currently being studied at Easi-Wall and the introduction of which is planned for 2014) will: • Stimulate, organize, support and facilitate data exchanges between the different regional, municipal and federal administrations. • Participate in establishing new sources of authentic data in Wallonia and in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. • Be a cross-sectional entry point orchestrating access services to different authentic databases, both federal and federated. • Ensure reliable transport and filter, according to the access authorizations obtained, the distribution of data. • Ensure compliance with the law on the protection of privacy and computer security rules. All the information that will be collected through the Carrefour Bank should permit a cumulative saving for administrations/users of over €2,000,000 per year due to automatic access by the administration to so-called "authentic" data and to the fact of no longer asking for it from the user. 37 B U S I N E S S F R I E N D L Y A D M I N I S T R A T I O N O F S M E s
  39. 39. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique 3 The introduction of a point of contact Wallonia has an Ombudsman1 whose mission it is, for the competences that depend on the regional authorities, to help people (including companies) that encounter difficulties in their relationships with the Walloon regional authorities. In addition to a role of mediation, the ombudsman presents an annual report to the Walloon Parliament where he highlights the problems encountered by citizens and companies, and makes recommendations2 for improving the quality of Walloon public services. This body therefore constitutes a de facto point of contact through which SMEs can highlight the procedures or regulations they deem to be disproportionate. They can then be highlighted to the competent authorities through the report to the Walloon Parliament. In addition, SMEs can also make their comments concerning the regulations they deem to be disproportionate to the Kafka point of contact introduced at national level. In fact, this also allows comments that concern the regional authorities to be collected, which are then sent to Easi-Wall for analysis. 4 "Services" and a "one stop shop" directive The Services Directive was transposed3 in Wallonia in accordance with community provisions during 2010; the work to change the legislation undertaken in 2009 has continued and the last adaptations to the texts have been made and published in the Belgian Monitor. Specifically, these are six texts that were published in the Monitor, that is: two vertical Walloon Government Orders (AGW) dated 24 March 2010 (Monitor of 06/04/2010) designed to bring various regulations into compliance with the Directive; four sectoral decrees and AGWs concerning travel agencies, the Walloon Regional Development, Town Planning, Heritage and Energy Code (CWATUPE) and energy. In addition, existing approved enterprise one-stop-shops have been designated to fulfil the role of one-stop-shops with the task of supplying companies with the information required to carry out an economic activity. 1 http://mediateur.wallonie.be The power to make recommendations is a prerogative of the ombudsman, assigned to him by the decree of 22 December 1994. 3 The Commission sent a letter of "Violation of the provisions of the services directive 2006/123/EC and the Professional qualifications directive" on 17 January 2012 via EU Pilot, in order to ask Wallonia questions concerning the "territorial scope of authorizations", as well as asking for clarification on the subject of foreign travel agents wishing to provide a temporary service on our Walloon territory. The deadline for a response was set at 28 March 2013. 2 38 B U S I N E S S F R I E N D L Y A D M I N I S T R A T I O N O F S M E s
  40. 40. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique In addition, since 2012 Wallonia has had an information portal (see above) (http://www.infosentreprises.be/fr) to supply information that is useful and required for creating an SME in the Walloon Region. 5 In conclusion It is possible to conclude that the implementation in Wallonia of the Commission's recommendations for the fourth of the SBA's main areas of focus is almost complete. In fact, the Region: • Refrains from asking SMEs for information already held by administrative departments. • Has introduced a contact point to which interested parties can highlight procedures or regulations they deem to be disproportionate via its Ombudsman. • Has implemented the "Services" Directive, including the introduction of one-stopshops. The only recommendation that has not been completely met concerns the time periods required to obtain licences and permits. In fact, theoretical time periods in Wallonia currently vary between 90 and 140 calendar days. It should be noted that the goal of reducing the time periods linked to these procedures to three months should be achieved by the end of 2013. B U S I N E S S F R I E N D L Y A D M I N I S T R A T I O N O F S M E s 39
  41. 41. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique Principle 4: Business-friendly administration of SMEs Recommendation Implemented number 4.1 Partially Not implemented Details of the SBA recommendation implemented To reduce to three months1, by the end of 2013, the time required to obtain licences and permits (including environmental permits) to start and exercise a x company's specific activity. 4.2 To refrain from asking SMEs for information already in the possession of x government departments, except when this information needs to be updated. 4.3 To introduce a point of contact to which interested parties can highlight the regulations or procedures they deem to be disproportionate and/or which x needlessly hinder the activities of SMEs. 4.4 B U S I N E S S F R I E N D L Y To ensure the full and timely implementation of the "Services" directive, including the introduction of one-stop-shops from which companies can obtain all the x relevant information and accomplish electronically all the procedures and formalities required. 1 The SBA recommendation is one month. However, the Competitiveness Council's conclusions of 31 May regarding this communication moderate this ambition and set a target of three months. A D M I N I S T R A T I O N
  42. 42. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique Principle 5: Facilitating SMEs' participation in public procurement 1 Public procurement 1.1 Dematerialisation and electronic portal Wallonia began its policy of dematerialisation several years ago, in a progressive manner. This dematerialization has a threefold objective: • To simply administrative procedures and practices, for both awarders and bidders' services. • To ensure complete traceability from drafting of the specification to designation of the successful bidder. • To analyse all contracts in order to guide Wallonia's overall public procurement policy (for example with regard to sustainable development, environmental, social and ethical clauses, etc.). The opening in November 2007 of an on-line "Public procurement" portal was quickly followed by the computerization of the publication of contract notices and the on-line availability of specifications1. In particular, this Portal can be used by SMEs for one click access to contract notices and certain related documents. It constitutes a point of access for the consultation of contracts published in the Walloon Region and in the French Community. In order to encourage the use of this tool, the free dissemination of contract documents relating to public contracts placed by the Walloon Public Service as paper versions was discontinued at the end of 20102. Ultimately, companies will be able to file their tenders virtually and the officers who place contracts via a negotiated procedure without advertising (PNSP) will be able to negotiate with several companies in the "e-bottin" via an interface incorporated into the "public procurement" portal. Dematerialization will be used to optimize the process of inserting environmental, social and ethical clauses. 1 2 http://marchespublics.wallonie.be Administrative circular from the DGT1 (Wallonia Public Service) dated 17 December 2010. 41 P U B L I C P R O C U R E M E N T
  43. 43. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique 1.2 Division of public contracts into lots Dividing public contracts into lots enables contracting authorities to improve access to certain large public contracts to SMEs and Very Small Enterprises. However, the companies present during the 2011 SME Parliament highlighted the risk that division leads to problems of coordination between the different lots, even subsequently for the same contract. A deeper analysis of the data resulting from the dematerialization process will permit analysis as to whether division of contracts should be encouraged in Wallonia or not. 1.3 Requirements with regard to qualitative selection (technical, economic and financial capacity). In its circular of 10 May 20071, the Walloon Government took several specific measures designed to avoid imposing disproportionate requirements with regard to qualitative selection criteria. This circular now helps facilitate access by young companies to public procurement. Concerning qualitative selection in public procurement for work in excess of €50,000 ex VAT, approval is compulsory for the company (approval renewable every five years). SMEs' attention must be drawn to the option of obtaining approval more easily by making applications for provisional approval. Approval, at federal level, is granted by a committee that meets once a month at the SPF Economie. The Walloon Region is represented there by the Public Procurement Department which is able to relay problems encountered in this area by Walloon companies and the Walloon contracting authorities. These provisions enable companies with limited financial, economic and technical references, to take part in public procurement via the recognition of other simple and accessible references such as a bank declaration, the use of a bond, diplomas, equipment available, ... 1 M.B., 28 Nov. 2007. 42 P U B L I C P R O C U R E M E N T
  44. 44. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique 1.4 Dialogue between SMEs and the contracting authorities In Wallonia, there are several tools specially designed to facilitate SMEs' understanding of the procedures relating to public procurement. • A guide specially designed for SMEs, relating to the procedures to use when taking part in public procurement available on-line (last updated: August 20121). • The opportunity for training for companies concerning the problems of public procurement (service offered by economic facilitation operators, coordinated by the ASE). • A free newsletter enabling them to obtain the latest information concerning what's new with regard to public procurement. However, a genuine dialogue can only have its effect in an optimum manner through a better understanding of the business world and its difficulties by the contracting authorities and a better understanding by companies of the requirements of the regulations relating to public procurement, and in particular the formal requirements, that the contracting authorities cannot avoid. 2 State support In the different support programs for companies, special attention is paid to SMEs, in particular through higher intervention rates. In addition, certain support schemes are reserved for them in areas that are particularly sensitive for them. Without being exhaustive, we can cite investment support2 specifically designed for SMEs3, support for research4 designed specifically for SMEs5 or support for consultancy reserved for SMEs6,, innovation grants, support for innovations in terms of organisation and/or processes7, INVESTS intervention on behalf of SMEs and guarantee mechanisms for micro-loans (SOCAMUT). In addition, the options under the European exemption regulations or minimum regulations are widely used. 1 http://marchespublics.cfwb.be/fr/informations-generales/pratiques-de-marche/guides-pratiques/abc-desmarches-publics.html 2 http://www.wallonie.be/fr/formulaire/detail/1952 3 Decree of 11 March 2004 regarding regional incentives for SMEs. 4 http://recherche-technologie.wallonie.be/fr/menu/profils/entreprise/pour-les-pme/index.html 5 Decree of 03 July 2008 regarding support for research, and technology vouchers co-financed by the ERDF. 6 Award for consultancy services - Decree of 11 March 2004 regarding regional incentives for SMEs. 7 http://www.wallonie.be/fr/formulaire/detail/3383 43 P U B L I C P R O C U R E M E N T
  45. 45. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique 3 In conclusion Implementation of the European Commission's recommendations concerning public procurement is on the right track. In fact, the process of reforming and dematerializing Walloon public procurement has brought clarity and accessibility for SMEs. However, the policy of dividing up contracts, the implementation of the "European Code of good practice facilitating access by SMEs to public procurement", as well as mutual dialogue between SMEs and the contracting authorities must be developed still further in order to be able to consider them to be fully implemented at Walloon level. Concerning the recommendation regarding the use of State support to adapt it better for SMEs, we can confirm that it has been fully implemented at Walloon level, as illustrated in particular by the mechanisms in support of innovation (Principle 8) and exports (Principle 10): cf the corresponding sections below. P U B L I C P R O C U R E M E N T 44
  46. 46. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique Principle 5: Facilitating SMEs' participation in public procurement Recommenda Partially implemented Implemented tion number 5.1 Not implemented Details of the SBA recommendation To introduce electronic portals to broaden access to information concerning x public contracts lower than EU thresholds. 5.2 To encourage contracting authorities to divide contracts into lots when it is x appropriate, and to increase the visibility of sub-contracting opportunities. 5.3 P U B L I C To remind the contracting authorities of their obligation to avoid imposing disproportionate requirements with regard to qualifications and financial x capacity. 5.4 To encourage constructive dialogue and mutual understanding between SMEs and large contracting authorities, through activities such as information, x training, monitoring and the exchange of good practices. 5.5 To refocus State aid policies to make them better suited to the needs of SMEs, in x particular by developing more targeted measures. 5.6 To implement the "European code of good practices facilitating SMEs access to x public procurement" fully. P R O C U R E M E N T
  47. 47. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique Principle 6: Facilitating SMEs' access to finance, in particular venture capital and micro-loans 1 Improving access to finance 1.1 Introduction of programs to address the lack of finance The Region, through the Walloon Company for funding and guaranteeing SMEs (SOWALFIN), offers a wide range of interventions with regard to funding. • Provision of guarantees for loans granted to SMEs by the banks. • Co-financing via providing SMEs with subordinated loans, in addition to bank loans. • Capital funding of SMEs through 9 "Invests wallons"1 and their specialist subsidiaries (i.e. spin-off/spin-out/innovative company subsidiaries). • Support for innovative SMEs in the form of subordinated loans at attractive rates via Novallia (see section on innovation). • Support for export activities and internationalisation through finance tools, guarantees and even subsidies via SOFINEX2 In the case of micro-enterprises in particular, but also targeted categories of entrepreneurs such as women, re-entrepreneurs and the self-employed, SOWALFIN, through SOCAMUT, facilitates access to small loans via different tools: • An automatic combination product launched in the 2nd half of 2011 combining a guarantee and loan covering funding needs up to a maximum of €37,500 (see box). • An automatic counter-guarantee for guarantees (up to 75%) granted in respect of bank loans by private mutual guarantee companies. This counter-guarantee is for 50% for bank loans of over €75,000 and 75% for bank loans less than or equal to €75,000. The guarantee provided by private mutual guarantee companies, if granted in respect 1 The 9 Invests Wallons operate by making financial contributions, favouring capital techniques of financing: acquisition of minority shareholdings with a buyback commitment; loans in the form of convertible bonds; subordinated loans. 2 The Company for funding exports and the internationalisation of Walloon Companies (SOFINEX) has as its particular mission to encourage exports and investment by Walloon companies in foreign countries. 46 F I N A N C E
  48. 48. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique of a micro-loan (maximum of €25,000), may be for up to 80%. Each year, a total of between 220 and 250 projects benefit from this automatic counter-guarantee system. 1.2 SMEs and European funding Wallonia makes the best use of the opportunities offered to it by European funding instruments, whether via the European Social Fund (ESF) or the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)1. A good number of measures in this document are an example of this. 2 The "credit ombudsman" The Walloon Region has a loan mediation structure:" Concileo".2 This was introduced in the context of anti-crisis measures (adopted in 2008) in order to find solutions to funding problems faced by SMEs (difficulties of dialogue, refusal to renew a line of credit, difficulty in obtaining deferment of instalments, termination of an existing loan). 1 2 All the programs funded can be found at the following address: http://europe.wallonie.be/ http://concileo.be/ 47 F I N A N C E
  49. 49. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique GOOD PRACTICE: The SOCAMUT automatic combination product To help Very Small Enterprises create, develop or restart a business, the Walloon Region has developed a financial tool through the Walloon Mutual Guarantees Company (SOCAMUT). It provides a guarantee of a maximum of 75% for a main bank loan of a maximum of 25,000 EUR, with the option of additional co-funding (subordinated loan from Socamut) of a maximum of 50% of the main bank loan with a ceiling of 12,500 EUR. What is a really new feature is the product's automatic nature. In practice, the bank does not have to obtain SOCAMUT's prior approval before granting funding. It simply undertakes to inform SOCAMUT of its decision. F I N A N C E Max. total funding €37,500. Max. Main micro bank loan to a maximum of €25,000 €25,000. Term a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of 10 years Bank support automatically guaranteed by SOCAMUT up to a maximum of 75%. Max. €12,500. Option for the bank to add an additional subordinated SOCAMUT loan to the bank loan, max. 50% of the bank loan with a ceiling of €12,500. Without any guarantee being demanded from either the micro-enterprise or from the bank. The term is the same as for the bank loan with the option of 6 months K excess. No requirement for own funds. Expenditure financed: working capital including start-up cash, physical and non-physical investment. The combination product can be used at the time a company is created, but also at different stages of its life: whether it is a matter of an entrepreneur who wants to acquire new machinery, equipment, tools or professional furniture, who wants to transform/refurbish a building, who wants to buy goodwill/a company or who quite simply has a need for cash. SOCAMUT's combination product can be used in the context of a financial package, the amount of which may not exceed 100,000 EUR (excluding own contributions). Since it first became available in the second half of 2011, 550 Very Small Enterprises and selfemployed persons have already made use of this product. http://www.socamut.be/produit-mixte 48
  50. 50. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique 3 Introduction of "one-stop-shops" In Wallonia, there is no single one-stop-shop properly speaking, where SMEs can seek all the European, national and local subsidies available. However, in order to remedy this problem, the Region has created a "company information" portal (see above), a real entry point for companies. This comprehensive website is designed to increase the visibility of all the support mechanisms offered by the different regional and European actors. Amongst other things, it can be used to consult a list developed by the Wallonia Public Service, containing all the regional, national and European support schemes that can be accessed by companies located in Wallonia.1 A simplified version of this tool is available free of charge on-line. In this version, SMEs can find out directly what type of support is available to them. Companies cannot seek these subsidies directly via this tool, but they can find all the information they need there, and the forms required for applying for it. Finally, companies can obtain full information regarding the different awards for which they may qualify from the various economic facilitation operators. GOOD PRACTICE: MIDAS Created 25 years ago, the "Midas" database lists all the public support for companies available in Wallonia. Its scope is far wider than that of the Walloon Public Service and Walloon Public Interest Bodies, since out of the 266 types of support listed (December 2012), 135 do not depend on a Walloon organisation, that is half of the aid schemes listed. The database is now updated monthly. This database comes in 2 versions: a website (http://www.aides-entreprises.be) and a CD-ROM that provides additional search and printing options, but only downloadable from this website; the last paying subscriptions to the CD-ROM ended in December 2012. In 2012, officials of the Enterprise Networks Department (Direction des Réseaux d’Entreprises) (DRE –SPW-DG06) provided 227 answers to requests for information concerning support available. 1 MIDAS list available at the following address http://economie.wallonie.be 49 F I N A N C E
  51. 51. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique 4 In conclusion Following analysis of the implementation of this sixth area of focus of the SBA devoted to access to funding, it can be concluded that Wallonia is implementing all the recommendations made by the European Commission on the subject. Only the recommendation relating to "one-stop-shops" through which SMEs can seek European, national and local grants has been partially implemented. In fact, and despite the introduction of the "enterprise information portal" which includes comprehensive information relevant to the subject, this type of one-stop-shop properly speaking does not exist in Wallonia. Principle 6: Facilitating SMEs' access to finance, in particular venture capital and micro-loans Recommendation Partially implemented Implemented number 6.1 Not implemented Details of the SBA recommendation To develop funding programmes that can remedy the absence of funding available for amounts of between 100,000 euros and one million euros, in particular via instruments that combine the characteristics of a loan x and the use of capital, while complying with the rules relating to State support. 6.2 To make full use of the funding available in the context of cohesion policy programs and in the context of the x European Agricultural Fund for rural development, in support of SMEs. 6.3 To develop solutions such as the "credit ombudsman" to facilitate dialogue between SMEs and the credit x institutions still further. 6.4 To create "one-stop-shops" through which SMEs can seek European, national and local subsidies. x 50 F I N A N C E
  52. 52. Service Public de Wallonie – Direction de la Politique Economique Principle 7: Encouraging SMEs to take greater advantage of the potential of the single market Although all the Commission's recommendations come within the scope of federal competencies, Wallonia encourages SMEs to take greater advantage of the potential provided by the single market. 1 Walloon Export and Foreign Investment Agency 2 http://www.wallonieeurope.be/blx/ 51 ENCOURAGING SMES TO TAKE GREATER ADVANTAGE OF THE POTENTIAL OF THE SINGLE MARKET In fact, through activities conducted by the EEN Wallonia network and AWEX1 (described in the parts relating to the examination of the principle of "internationalisation"), many actions are implemented in Wallonia in order to support SMEs' access to the single market. For example, the EEN Wallonia network reports to the European Commission regularly concerning obstacles encountered by Walloon SMEs when they try to develop internationally, as well as other malfunctions of the single market.2

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