In an opinion article this week on Euractiv, Arnaldo Abruzzini, CEO of the Association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry, criticised the European Commission for disregarding SMEs when assessing the impact of policy. A newly released study produced by the Association found the Commission regularly sets aside its own guidelines. The findings included weak collection of SME views, poor reporting of SME input and a routine lack of impact quantification. The Association calls on the Commission to adhere to its guidelines for legislation dealing with SMEs.
One of the most egregious examples of the Commission ignoring its own best practice in dealing with SMEs is the proposed track and trace system for tobacco products. Despite constant warnings from smaller manufacturers that the system will be unworkable, the Commission is pressing ahead without concern for the dire market impacts its rules will have. The manufacturing and UID requirements, including for export products, will impose massive costs on smaller producers, forcing many of them out in a move which will lead to further market concentration.
“The Commission’s continued failure to deliver a proportionate and feasible approach to tracking and tracing tobacco products in Europe is another example of its outright disregard for SMEs in the EU,” ESTA Secretary General Peter van der Mark said. “SMEs are usually treated in legislation as an afterthought, if at all. But in the case of tobacco, smaller firms seem to be deliberately targeted by a Commission that has shunned their concerns with its myopic focus on the largest cigarette makers.”