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SMEs and entrepreneurship

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are a powerful economic engine for Europe. Over 2002-2010, SMEs created 80% of the new jobs in the EU. But the economic crisis has weakened this contribution in many countries. Over 2008-2013, the evolution of employment in SMEs scored from -27% to +19% in the various EU countries. It is therefore vital to improve the business environment for SMEs everywhere in Europe.

This is very much a task for national governments, but the EU has also a critical role to play by implementing a horizontal pro-SME EU action agenda, and by ensuring that SMEs can reap the benefits of the EU flagship initiatives.

While entrepreneurship is often understood as relating to creation of new companies, it is in fact a mindset which is needed to start a new company or to keep an existing company on a dynamic growth path. According to Eurostat enquiries, entrepreneurship is currently weakening in Europe in comparison with other parts of the world. EU regulations need therefore to be well designed, in a way that fosters – and not erodes - the entrepreneurial ambitions of citizens.

Key message

BusinessEurope is pushing for the following pro-SME action agenda at EU level:

  • reduce the volume and improve the quality of EU regulation applicable to SMEs;
  • improve SME access to the lending and non-lending financing routes;
  • support SME efforts to innovate;
  • favour integration of SMEs in global value chains;
  • support SME efforts to internationalise;
  • make national administrations more responsive to SME needs;
  • foster a pro-entrepreneurship culture and legal environment in Europe.


Facts and figures

SMEs are critical for the European economy:

  • 99 out of every 100 businesses are SMEs
  • 2 in every 3 employees work in SMEs
  • 58 cents in every euro of value added is generated by SMEs.


Daniele Olivieri

Deputy Director for Entrepreneurship & SMEs
+32 2 237 65 48
Last updated: 17 February 2020