What is an SME?

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent 99% of all businesses in the EU. The definition of an SME is important for access to finance and EU support programmes targeted specifically at these enterprises.


 

Definition of an SME:

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are defined in the EU recommendation 2003/361.

The main factors determining whether an enterprise is an SME are:

  1. staff headcount
  2. either turnoveror balance sheet total
Company categoryStaff headcountTurnoverorBalance sheet total
Medium-sized< 250≤ € 50 m≤ € 43 m
Small< 50≤ € 10 m≤ € 10 m
Micro< 10≤ € 2 m≤ € 2 m

These ceilings apply to the figures for individual firms only. A firm that is part of a larger group may need to include staff headcount/turnover/balance sheet data from that group too.

For more details:

 

What help can SMEs get?

There are 2 broad types of potential benefit for an enterprise if it meets the criteria:

  • eligibility for support under many EU business-support programmestargeted specifically at SMEs: research funding, competitiveness and innovation funding and similar national support programmes that could otherwise be banned as unfair government support (“state aid” – see block exemption regulation).
  • fewer requirementsor reduced fees for EU administrative compliance.

 


 

 

EASME – Executive Agency for SMEs

https://ec.europa.eu/easme/en/section/about-easme

The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) has been set-up by the European Commission to manage on its behalf several EU programmes.

It’s Vision is “‘We aim to help create a more competitive and resource-efficient European economy based on knowledge and innovation”, and

Mission ‘We provide high quality support to our beneficiaries, turning EU policy into action. As an executive agency of the European Commission, we manage significant parts of COSME, LIFE, Horizon 2020 and EMFF. We ensure that actions funded by these programmes deliver results and provide the Commission with valuable input for its policy tasks’