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EU urges Member States to give a boost to small businesses

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The EU published today its annual SME report, estimating the loss of jobs in the SME sector over 2009 and 2010 to 3.25 million. The report stresses that EU Member States should take action to boost the small and medium enterprises sector in order to generate new employment opportunities.

With the onset of the economic crisis in 2008, a very positive development of small and medium enterprises (SME) has come to a halt. Between 2002 and 2008, SMEs in the EU turned out to be the most important European Economy job engine. With 9.4 million jobs created between 2002 and 2008 SMEs outperformed large firms. This is in sharp contrast to an estimated loss of 3.25 million jobs in the SME sector over 2009 and 2010 further to the annual SME report published today. For each EU Member State and 10 more countries, selected key facts describing the national SME sector are provided, such as number of SMEs and employment creation. They also underline that Member States have undertaken many relevant policy actions, but much more needs to be done to ensure that the guidelines set by the Small Business Act (SBA) are fully implemented.

European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, in charge of Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: "SMEs represent our economy's future, only they can generate new employment opportunities.. In light of the rather testing times ahead, an effective policy response is crucial in helping SMEs to be successful. Member States should step up actions that give a boost to SMEs. For SMEs to thrive, they need a more business-friendly environment across Europe".

Providing jobs for almost 90 million Europeans, Europe’s 20.7 million SMEs continue to be the EU's economic backbone. To spur its role as the EU’s most important job generator, a speedy implementation of the actions contained in the Small Business Act (SBA) is critical. It is the EU’s flagship SME policy initiative and foresees actions by the Commission as well as by Member States in 10 different policy areas.

The main conclusions of the SME performance review are:

  • SMEs outperformed large firms in 2002-2008 in employment generation: On average, between 2002 and 2008, the number of jobs in SMEs increased by 1.9% annually, while the number of jobs in large enterprises increased by only 0.8% annually.
  • Crisis struck large and medium firms first, but smallest ones hit harder now: Estimates for EU-27 SMEs' production in EU-27 in 2009 hint at a decline by 5.5%. In 2009, this happened mostly in large and medium-sized enterprises, and less so for micro and small enterprises which are expected to be most affected in 2010 and beyond as initial support measures are phased out.


    SMEs in United States hit hard too: The number of businesses is estimated to have declined by 0.6% in 2008 and by 2.2% in 2009.

  • Member States active in implementing SME support measures: As regards policy developments, the SBA fact sheets reveal that more than 500 policy measures across all ten SBA principles were implemented in 2007-2009. Only a minority 9 of Member States were active across the entire range of the 10 SBA principles.

The SME performance review (SPR)

The SME Performance Review (SPR) provides information on the situation of SMEs and SME policy in the EU, as a contribution to evidence-based and effective (SME) policy making. It was launched in 2008, the same year as the Small Business Act for Europe (SBA).

The report was developed by EIM Business & Policy Research at the Commission’s request and the views expressed in this document are solely those of EIM and do not necessarily reflect those of the Commission. This SME report strives to provide an aggregated EU-level analysis. The latest figures at the time of writing the report concern 2006, whereas figures for later years were estimations made by the contractor.

SME performance review

"Small Business Act" for Europe

European Small Business portal

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