EU Small and Medium Size Enterprises – Fact Sheet

In the non-financial business economy in 2006, of all EU-27 enterprises, 99.8% was represented by SMEs, employing two thirds of the workforce (67.4 %) and generating 57.7% of total value added.

  • Of all the total sectoral value added in the EU-27’s real estate, recycling and construction activities, SMEs generated 80%, while large enterprises accounted for more than 90% of sectoral value added within post and telecommunications, the mining of metal ores, coal and lignite, coke, refined petroleum products and nuclear fuels activities, the manufacture of tobacco products;
  • In 2006, in non-financial business economy, large enterprises in the EU-27’s employed over 1000 persons on an average, when compared with an average of 4.4 persons for SMEs; hence in terms of employment, the relative weight of a single large enterprise was equivalent to almost 232 SMEs;
  • In 2006, large enterprises accounted for 93.2% of those employed in the air transport sector, 87.0% were working in post and telecommunications, and around 85% in two of the energy related activities – the extraction of crude petroleum and natural gas, and electricity, gas, steam and hot water supply. In contrast, SMEs employed 87.6% in recycling, 88.2% of them in motor trades’ workforce, and 88.0% of them were employed in the construction sector;
  • In 2006, SMEs employed 81.0% of the non-financial business economy workforce in Italy, a share that is closer to 50% in Slovakia and the United Kingdom;
  • In relation with the average enterprise size, the labor productivity also increased. In the non finacial business economy,on an average, 50% of the persons employed in large enterprises were more productive than the persons working in SMEs. Within the industrial economy, on an average, 81.1% of people working in large enterprises were found to be more productive and 24.3%of persons were more productive within non-financial services. But within some service sectors SMEs were more productive than their larger competitors; this was particularly true for the real estate sector and many activities within the other business services sector.