THE EUROPEAN Union must do more to help the small businesses to grow and create jobs, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
The small business group said it is neutral on whether the UK should or should not be part of the EU and it works directly with the European Commission and other EU bodies to encourage them ‘Think Small First' through its membership of the European Small Business Alliance (ESBA).
John Walker, national chairman of the FSB, said: “There are more than four million people in the UK that are either self-employed or run their own business.
“Although the single European market gives them access to 500 million customers and 23 million businesses, the burden of regulation – with around half emanating from the European Union itself – falls disproportionately on the smallest firms.
“The Government and the EU must do everything they can to ensure small businesses have the best support, and environment in which they can create growth and jobs so desperately needed, as well as further freeing up barriers to trade, reducing regulation, and supporting local communities.”
The UK Government said that around half of the UK’s regulation comes from Brussels.
In addition to reducing the burden of red tape on small firms, the FSB said it is working to ensure the European single market is further opened up to the SME sector.
Almost a quarter of the FSB’s 200,000 members are exporters and the organisation said its members generally find it easier to export to other EU countries, especially if they are selling overseas for the first time.
The FSB said that export and global free trade is of vital importance in helping the UK’s economic recovery and Governments around the world must play their parts to keep markets open and take barriers away.
Meanwhile, new research by the FSB shows that almost a third of small firms are have been unable to hire people who are reservists from the Army, Navy and Air Force.
The Government is currently encouraging employers to take on reservists but the FSB says there is insufficient support for them to do so.
In a snap FSB poll, 39% of firms said they would require a financial incentive to take on reservists, while 30% would want help in finding replacement staff and almost half said that they would ideally require two to three months notice if one of their employees were to be mobilised.