Brussels, 23 February 2011
Europe's Small Business Act strengthens small businesses and drives growth
Europe's 2020 strategy and Europe’s economy heavily rely on Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) achieving their potential. In the EU, some 23 million SMEs employ 67% of the private sector workforce. The Small Business Act (SBA) is the EU policy framework aimed at strengthening SMEs so that they can grow and create employment. Between 2008 and 2010, the Commission and EU Member States implemented actions set out in the SBA to alleviate administrative burden, facilitate SMEs’ access to finance and support their access to new markets. Although most initiatives foreseen by the SBA have been initiated, a review of implementation so far reveals that more must be done to help SMEs.
European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship said: "SMEs represent more than 99% of all businesses and employ more than 90 million in Europe. They are the engine behind our economy and must be kept strong, competitive and innovative. Member States must act quickly to ensure that the Small Business Act is fully implemented."
Successful SBA Initiatives since 2008
The Small Business Act is the first comprehensive SME policy framework for the EU and its Member States. Since its adoption in June 2008, considerable progress has been made through actions to strengthen SMEs in a number of areas:
Although all Member States have acknowledged the importance of a rapid implementation of the SBA, the approach taken and the results achieved vary considerably between Member States. The review underlines that Member States have to step up their efforts to promote entrepreneurship and SMEs to support entrepreneurship in today’s difficult economic climate.
Giving fresh impetus to the SBA
The Commission is determined to continue to give priority to SMEs. To reflect the latest economic developments, align the SBA with the priorities of the Europe 2020 strategy and continuously improve the business environment for SMEs, the review proposes further action in a number of priority areas:
Improved access to finance to invest and grow
Making full use of the Single Market
Helping SMEs face the challenges of globalisation and climate change
The review also proposes strengthened governance for the implementation of the SBA, with business organisations at the frontline.
The actions outlined above represent a limited selection. For a full list of actions, see the SBA review itself or MEMO/11/109. MEMO/11/110 gives a number of examples of the successful implementation of the SBA and the “think small first principle” in Member States.
For more information: