Countries told to ease SME ownership changes

The European Commission has published recommendations designed to make it
easier for small and medium-sized businesses to change ownership.

Brussels estimates that a third of EU entrepreneurs will retire through old
age within the next 10 years. This could affect 690,000 businesses providing 2.8
million jobs, it says. In many cases the business simply ceases because of
financial and legal problems or because the founders put off or ignore
preparations for new ownership.

The Commission is now asking the 25 EU member countries to ensure that ‘tax
systems are transfer-friendly’, and that adequate financial conditions are
available for transferring businesses. It wants governments to ‘raise awareness,
consider soft factors, support mentoring and organise transparent markets for
business transfers’.

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