Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the engine of the European economy. They drive job creation and economic growth, and ensure social stability. In 2013, over 21 million SMEs provided 88.8 million jobs throughout the EU. Nine out of every 10 enterprises is an SME, and SMEs generate 2 out of every 3 jobs. SMEs also stimulate an entrepreneurial spirit and innovation throughout the EU and are thus crucial for fostering competitiveness and employment.
Given their importance to Europe’s economy, SMEs are a major focus of EU policy. The European Commission aims to promote entrepreneurship and improve the business environment for SMEs, thereby allowing them to realise their full potential in today’s global economy.
SMEs come in many different shapes and sizes; however, in today’s complex business environment they may have close financial, operational or governance relationships with other enterprises. These relationships often make it difficult to precisely draw the line between an SME and a larger enterprise. The SME definition is a practical tool designed to help SMEs identify themselves so that they can receive the full support of the EU and its Member States.