Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the EU’s economy. They represent 99.8% of all companies operating in the non-financial business sector, accounting for 67% of total employment and 57% of added value. Almost all of these SMEs are micro enterprises, employing less of 10 people. Notwithstanding the necessary actions required by national governments, the EU has a crucial role in creating a supportive environment for businesses across Europe.
The Small Business Act (SBA) has been, since 2008, the overarching framework for the EU policy on SMEs. For the period 2014-2020, the SBA is implemented through the EU Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (the COSME programme), provided with planned budget of €2.3 billion. By 2018 at the latest, the European Commission is expected to carry out a mid-term evaluation of COSME. To ensure proper implementation of EU programmes and other policy measures in favour of enterprises within the Single Market, a clear common definition of SME would be required, so to avoid any distortions of competition deriving from legal uncertainty. In this regard, in the summer of 2017, the Commission launched the Inception Impact Assessment for the revision of the current EU SME definition, provided in Recommendation 2003/361/EC.