Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Entrepreneurship and Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

Entrepreneurship and Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

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.

Coronavirus response in relation to mitigation of effects on SMEs

We have made liquidity measures available for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) is also helping SMEs with innovation partnerships on areas linked to COVID-19 (such as PPE and medical equipment) and advice on accessing dedicated European and national financial support. In addition, the Commission is utilising several SME strategy measures to cushion the impact of the crisis, such as working with EU countries to enforce the Late Payment Directive or cut red tape.

The Directorate-General for SMEs is contributing to the Commission’s economic response to the outbreak. We are ensuring the exchange of essential protective equipment on the internal market, as well as helping affected industries mitigate the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. 
See more information on the Commission-wide coronavirus response website.

We are also responding to the COVID-crisis with a recovery strategy to build resilience within European supply chains and ecosystems, restore consumer and business confidence, stimulate investment and help the unemployed back to work. The new SME strategy will feed into this recovery strategy and support SMEs during the sustainable and digital recovery phase.


See the SME definition.

What the EU does for SMEs

  1. 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.

  2. Promotes entrepreneurship

    The Commission promotes entrepreneurship through the Entrepreneurship Action Plan, supports entrepreneurship education, and provides support tools for aspiring entrepreneurs. More on promoting entrepreneurship.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Supports SME Competitiveness and Innovation

    Promoting competitiveness and innovation are key aspects of EU policy in relation to industry and enterprise, in particular for SMEs.

  6. Provides key support networks and information for SMEs

    • the Your Europe Business Portal is a practical guide to doing business in Europe. It provides entrepreneurs with information and interactive services that help them expand their business abroad
    • the Enterprise Europe Network helps SMEs and entrepreneurs access market information, overcome legal obstacles, and find potential business partners across Europe
    • the SME Internationalisation support page provides information on foreign markets and helps European business internationalise their activities
    • the single portal on Access to Finance helps SMEs find finance supported by the EU
  7. 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.


    Start-up and scale-up initiative info graphic