The strategic importance of SMEs

In the European Union (EU) there are around 23 million SMEs.

  • They provide about 75 million jobs (two out of every three private sector jobs)
  • They represent 99% of all enterprises
  • They contribute to more than half of the total added value created by businesses in the EU
  • They are responsible for the majority of new jobs created in Europe

SMEs are the true backbone of the European economy. They are primarily responsible for economic growth and prosperity. Their capacity for innovation and flexibility in a changing business environment makes them crucial for Europe’s success in the global economy.

Nine out of ten SMEs are actually micro-enterprises with less than 10 employees.

However, these smaller businesses often encounter difficulties in trading. So support for SMEs is a European Commission (EC) priority. And ETSI makes special efforts to help SMEs participate in our standards-making.

A definition

According to the EC, SMEs are defined as economically independent companies with less than 250 employees and less than €50 million annual turnover (or €43 million annual balance sheet).

The EC’s view of SMEs

Günter Verheugen, Member of the EC responsible for Enterprise and Industry:

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the engine of the European economy. They are an essential source of jobs, create entrepreneurial spirit and innovation in the EU and are thus crucial for fostering competitiveness and employment.