Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of Europe's economy. They represent 99% of all businesses in the EU. In the past five years, they have created around 85% of new jobs and provided two-thirds of the total private sector employment in the EU. The European Commission considers SMEs and entrepreneurship as key to ensuring economic growth, innovation, job creation, and social integration in the EU.
See the SME definition.
Creates a business friendly environment
At the centre of the Commission's action is the Small Business Act for Europe (SBA) that provides a comprehensive SME policy for the EU and EU countries. The SBA promotes the 'Think Small First' principle and promotes entrepreneurial spirit among European citizens. More on a business friendly environment.
The Commission promotes entrepreneurship through the Entrepreneurship Action Plan, supports entrepreneurship education, and provides support tools for aspiring entrepreneurs. More on promoting entrepreneurship.
Improves access to new markets and internationalisation
The Commission’s priority is to ensure that enterprises can rely on a business friendly environment and make the most out of cross border activities, both within the EU Single Market and outside the EU. More on SME internationalisation.
Facilitates access to finance
Access to finance is the most pressing issue for many small enterprises. The Commission works on improving the financing environment for SMEs and provides information on funding. The Late Payment Directive strengthens businesses' rights to prompt payment. More on access to finance.
Supports SME Competitiveness and Innovation
Provides key support networks and information for SMEs
Supports start-ups and scale-ups in particular
The Commission's 'Start-up and scale-up initiative' aims to give Europe's many innovative entrepreneurs every opportunity to become world leading companies. It brings together all the possibilities that the EU already offers and adds a new focus on venture capital investment, insolvency law, taxation and more. See our media package for more details.