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Number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) the European Union in 2018

There were estimated to be approximately 25.1 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the European Union in 2018, with the vast majority of these enterprises micro-sized firms which only employed fewer than nine people. A further 1.47 million enterprises were small firms with between 10 and 49 employees and approximately 236 thousand were medium-sized firms that had 50 to 249 employers.

Value varies by country
SMEs are an important part of the European economy, but their value to each country varies quite significantly. In Malta for example, 81 percent of value added to the economy comes from SMEs, while in the Republic of Ireland only 41.7 percent of the county's added value comes from SMEs. For the European Union, the average value that SMEs contribute to the economy is around 56 percent.

Almost 100 million employed by SMEs
During 2017 SME’s in the European Union employed over 94 million people, or approximately 66 percent of the workforce. In Europe’s biggest economy, Germany, SMEs employed 18.3 million people, with over 6.7 million people employed by small-sized enterprises alone.

Number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the European Union in 2018, by size

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Release date

November 2019



Survey time period


Supplementary notes

The source adds the following information:
These are estimates for 2017 produced by DIW Econ, based on 2008-15 figures from the Structural Business Statistics Database (Eurostat). The data cover the 'non-financial business economy', which includes industry, construction, trade, and services (NACE Rev. 2 sections B to J, L, M and N), but not enterprises in agriculture, forestry and fisheries and the largely non-market service sectors such as education and health. The following size-class definitions are applied: micro firms (0-9 persons employed), small firms (10-49 persons employed), medium-sized firms (50-249 persons employed), and large firms (250+ persons employed). The advantage of using Eurostat data is that the statistics are harmonised and comparable across countries. The disadvantage is that for some countries the data may be different from those published by national authorities.

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Statistics on "SMEs in Europe"

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