Administrative simplification for business start-ups: key theme of the ICHNOS Plus project opening conference

The six partner regions of the ICHNOS Plus project come together to the opening conference of the project held in Cagliari (Italy) on 11 December 2008. The conference, organised by the Lead Partner Ancitel Sardegna, attracted around 100 participants among local authorities, officers of the Sardinian Municipal One-Stop-Shops, representatives of the Chambers of Commerce and business associations.

The conference purpose was to present the ICHNOS Plus project to the audience and to draw the attention on the importance of administrative simplification for SMEs growth and regional development.

Speakers outlined the recent and most important policies at the regional, national and European level. The Sardinian Regional Minister for Industry, Ms Concetta RAU, welcomed the interregional initiative and stressed the great interest and commitment of the Sardinian Regional Authority on the field of administrative simplification and Ms Elisabetta SCHIRRU, responsible for the OSSes coordination, highlighted the most important progress achieved over the last four years - as far as administrative simplification for start-ups is concerned - within the Region where it is possible to start-up a new business activity in 20 days (including the issuance of authorizations and licences).

The representative of the Italian Ministry for Simplification, Mr Gabriele Da Rin, underlined the role played by the Chambers of Commerce in the registration phase. According to a recent law (L. n. 133/2008), small municipalities, which do not have the necessary resources to set up an OSS, can delegate the Chambers of Commerce to issue also the authorizations and licenses needed to the would-be entrepreneur.

Mr Inigo Urresti of European Commission (DG Enterprise and Industry) focused on the results produced by the 2006 Spring Council conclusions and the new commitments of the Small Business Act adopted in June 2008. The 2006 Spring Council conclusions contained three main priorities:
  1. to establish, by 2007, a one-stop-shop for setting up a company in a quick and simple way;
  2. to take adequate measures to considerably reduce the average time for setting up a business in a week;
  3. start-up fees should be as low as possible.

Two years after, progress has been outstanding in most Member States. Average time to start-up a private limited company in 2008 is 9 natural days (12 days in 2007) and cost is € 466 (€ 485 in 2007).

However, only 9 countries accomplished with all these three points (BE, DK, EE, FR, HU, PT, RO, SI and UK).

To strengthen and improve the implementation of this measures, the Small Business Act re-takes these commitments and extends them to include a maximum limit for the authorisation of business licenses (1 month).

Regions can play a great role in achieving this goal, but in a large number of countries they continue to hold back, even if according to the Services Directive, by end 2009, all EU Countries must set up points of single contact to enable companies operating as service providers to complete all necessary formalities, such as registration, authorisation, notification, licences, etc. by electronic means.

From the point of view of European SMEs - represented by Luc Hendrickx, Director Enterprise Policy and External Relations of UEAPME (Association of European Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) a cultural shift is need. The whole regulatory process for business start-ups should be rethought taking into account the principle of "think small first". Small and medium enterprises should be consulted and involved in the design of the legislation.

Click here to download speakers' presentations.

© 2008