SME competitiveness

Small and medium-sized enterprises are vital for the EU's economy, accounting for more than 99% of European businesses and two thirds of private sector jobs. The European Structural and Investment Funds will make available more than €450 billion to Member States in 2014-2020 to finance investments for enhancing jobs and growth.

Additional tools


Improving the competitiveness of SMEs is one of the 11 thematic objectives for Cohesion Policy in 2014-2020. Additional investments in SMEs will also be made under other thematic objectives, particularly research and innovation, the low-carbon economy and information and communication technologies. €57 billion or around 20% of funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will be dedicated explicitly to SMEs. The increased use of financial instruments mobilising additional EU, national and regional funds during the 2014-2020 funding period is also expected to benefit SMEs.

These investments will help SMEs to:

  • Access finance for investments through grants, loans, loan guarantees, venture capital, etc.
  • Benefit from targeted business support, e.g. know-how and advice, information and networking opportunities, cross-border partnerships.
  • Improve their access to global markets and international value chains
  • Exploit new sources of growth such as the green economy, sustainable tourism, health and social services including the “silver economy” and cultural and creative industries
  • Invest in human capital and in organisations providing practice-oriented vocational education and training
  • Forge valuable links with research centres and universities to promote innovation

New simplified and common rules and measures make it easier for SMEs to access Cohesion Policy Funds in 2014-2020. These include:

  • online reporting of how the Funds are used
  • clearer eligibility rules
  • more targeted and less frequent audits for small operations
  • wider scope and simplification of the set-up and access to financial instruments

Increased investment in SMEs in 2014-2020 will build on the achievements of EU Cohesion Policy during the 2007-2013 funding period:

  • More than 95,000 start-ups supported
  • More than 300,000 jobs created in SMEs


Thematic Objective: 3 SME competitiveness by Country for 2014-2020

Breakdown Of The Available Funds By Thematic Objective By MS For 2014-2020