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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

Fact and figures about the EU´s Small and Medium Enterprise (SME)

Financial accounts © Sean Gladwell - Fotolia

Following the daily news, it is easy to get the impression that the European economy is dominated by large, multinational enterprises. Their multi-billion Euro takeovers, global expansion plans or -more recently- risks of mega bankruptcies dominate the headlines.

What usually gets lost is that more than 99% of all European businesses are, in fact, SMEs (see definition of SMEs). They provide two out of three of the private sector jobs and contribute to more than half of the total value-added created by businesses in the EU. Moreover, SMEs are the true back-bone of the European economy, being primarily responsible for wealth and economic growth, next to their key role in innovation and R&D.

What is even more intriguing is that nine out of ten SMEs are actually micro enterprises with less than 10 employees. Hence, the mainstays of Europe's economy are micro firms, each providing work for two persons, in average. This is probably one of the EU's best kept secrets!

The SME Performance Review (SPR) is the key instrument employed by the European Commission to document the important role of SMEs and to study the further development of this sector. It has two components: a European annual report and a set of country fact sheets.

Additionally, a host of studies on important SME topics can be consulted on the SPR webpage.

The SPR is the continuation of the work done by the "Observatory of European SMEs ".

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