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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the environment

SMEs are highly important for the European economy and also for our environment. 99.8% of Europe’s private companies are SMEs, accounting for more than two thirds of employment in the EU-27. Whilst the individual environmental impacts of each SME are generally small in comparison to those of large companies, the cumulative environmental impact of the sector is considerable.

On one hand, environmental policy is a compliance issue for SMEs. These companies often consider the environmental legislation as a complex and puzzling issue. The European Commission, therefore, helps them better understand this matter and become compliant with all European environmental laws, regulations, standards and other requirements. See, for example, webpages on chemicals and waste policy.

On the other hand, environmental policy also means attractive business opportunities for SMEs. Increased resource efficiency, circular economy solutions and participation in green markets represent important opportunities for European SMEs to improve their productivity, boost their competitiveness, register growth and create employment. The "Green Action Plan for SMEs" that was adopted in July 2014 outlines how the Commission, in partnership with Member States and the regions, intends to help SMEs take advantage of resource efficiency improvements, the circular economy and of green markets.

Archived ECAP Website

Pilot Project "Boosting the circular economy amongst SMEs in Europe"


The Commission is in the process of updating some of the content on this website in the light of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. If the site contains content that does not yet reflect the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, it is unintentional and will be addressed.