of this statement (in alphabetical order)
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Small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) have been hard hit by the ongoing COVID pandemic. This is especially the case in high employment sectors, such as tourism, hospitality, and leisure.
National governments and the EU have stepped in with unparalleled levels of support to help struggling SMEs. Banks have put in place a variety of solutions to help their clients, both in cooperation with and as a complement to public authorities' measures. Guarantee institutions have also played a key role in supporting corporate lending dynamics by setting up extensive support measures. In addition, accountants have helped SMEs adjust to the COVID circumstances based on their skills and capabilities around financial distress and business planning.
On top of their individual efforts, these sectors have also worked together at national and EU levels. In some cases, this has already led to initiatives aiming to reduce uncertainties and difficulties for SMEs. We also acknowledge the impact of the Roundtables organised by the European Commission in reinforcing these cooperative efforts and laud the efforts of national partners who have reached out to other sectors.
Altogether, these measures have probably helped to prevent thousands of bankruptcies and insolvencies, as pointed out by Bruegel; however, in some cases, they may have also deferred solvency problems into the future.
Accountancy Europe, the European Association of Co-operative Banks (EACB), the European Association of Guarantee Institutions (AECM), the European Banking Federation (EBF), the European Savings and Retail Banking Group, SMEunited and the five supporting organisations of this joint statement believe that it is time to start preparing for that future now!
Our organisations concur that SMEs, accountants, financial and guarantee institutions, and other key actors in the SME ecosystem need to get together to discuss SMEs' overall post-COVID business outlook. Therefore, we announce the following:
Bottom-up, cross-sectoral voluntary discussions at the level of the national markets could be useful in leading to a common understanding among the participating stakeholders on the up-to-date situation of SMEs, which is vital for the effective monitoring and assessment of companies' financial health and prospects.
The signatories will support possible new or continued national discussions around these issues by providing relevant analyses and promote an exchange of best practices that could serve as an inspiration for these discussions.
We also emphasise the overall need to foster the green and digital transition of the economy, as well as reporting and data sharing systems to meet changing business and market demands. Digitalisation can enable a better and more secure data exchange and provide more valuable insights through forward looking data and big data analytics. This will support the objectives of the twin transition of the EU economy.
Finally, in these discussions, there are two important balances to strike:
National dialogues to improve the availability of data and the assessment of viability can enable a better monitoring of businesses' post-COVID health, and therefore:
In this context we note the recent paper of the ESRB focusing on preventing and managing a (potentially) large number of insolvencies. In particular, we agree with the following observations:
 Including furlough schemes, tax deferrals, government-backed loans and guarantees, and loan moratoria. Many European countries have even temporarily suspended the enforcement of insolvency laws.
 cf. https://www.flipsnack.com/AECMeurope/aecm-covid-brochure/full-view.html
 We do not seek to be prescriptive or comprehensive. It should be up to our national members to decide to hold such discussions and what issues should be discussed.
 By which we mean 'sustainability' in its more comprehensive sense i.e. environmental, financial and economic, societal etc.
 cf. https://aecm.eu/publications/reports-and-studies/