European Commission - Enterprise and Industry

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Eurobarometer survey: How green are European SMEs? Julkaistu: 17/12/2013

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The European Commission has published an extensive survey – the second of its kind – to understand the views and attitudes of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) towards three core environmental themes: green jobs, resource efficiency and green markets.

The results show that in 2013, European SMEs added more green jobs, made
improvements in resource efficiency and are contributing to the transition to a
low-carbon economy.

A transition to a greener economy – SMEs’ contribution is needed

In 2012, it is estimated that there were 20.3 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the European Union, representing 98% of all businesses and providing around 90 million jobs in the single market (IP/13/1156). SMEs are the backbone of the European economy and their contribution is essential for pursuing the goals of ‘Europe 2020’, the EU's strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

However, SMEs find it more difficult to comply with environmental legislation than large companies. A lack of expertise, lengthy approval procedures for new products and a lack of consumer demand are the main obstacles that prevent SMEs from entering the green markets. The aim of this Eurobarometer survey was to evaluate how European SMEs are faring in green jobs, resource efficiency and green markets, compared to a similar survey which took place in early 2012 (MEMO/12/218). The survey included more than 11.000 SMEs in the 28 EU Member States, as well as Albania, Iceland, Liechtenstein, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, the Republic of Serbia, Turkey, Israel and the USA.

Green products and services + resource efficiency = green jobs

Green products and services are those with a predominant function of reducing environmental risk and minimising pollution and use of resources. For this survey, products with environmental features (eco-designed, eco-labelled, organically produced, and with an important recycled content) were also included.

According to the definition used in this Eurobarometer, green jobs are either:

  • jobs related to the production of goods or to the provision of services that benefit the environment or optimise the use of natural resources; or
  • jobs whose characteristics involve use of practices and processes which are either more environmental friendly or use fewer natural resources than today.

As a result, the total amount of green jobs measured by this Eurobarometer is linked both to resource-efficiency processes and to the production of green products and services as well as with compliance with environmental legislation. Examples include a chemical technician testing air samples for pollution emissions levels of the production process, a worker contributing to the production of machinery that reduces pollution emissions, or an operator of renewable energy equipment to produce electricity for use within the company.

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