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SME definition of the European Commission

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are defined in the EU Recommendation 2003/361. According to this, an enterprise is considered an SME if it has no more than 249 employees and an annual turnover not exceeding € 50 million or a balance sheet total not exceeding € 43 million.

EU SME thresholds since 01.01.2005

Enterprise sizeStaff headcountandTurnover €/yearorBalance sheet total €/year
microup to 9 up to 2 million up to 2 million
smallup to 49 up to 10 million up to 10 million
medium-sizedup to 249 up to 50 million up to 43 millon

These thresholds apply to individual companies. In the case of a company that is part of a larger group, the number of employees and the turnover or balance sheet total of the group must be considered, depending on the size of the holding.

The distinction of an SME according to the EU Commission's definition is important for access to funds and EU funding programmes that are specifically targeted at these companies.

For statistical/empirical analyses, SMEs are usually defined according to the number of employees or the size of turnover:

  • Micro enterprises: up to 9 employees and up to € 2 million turnover/year
  • Small enterprise: up to 49 employees and up to €10 million turnover/year and no micro enterprise
  • Medium-sized enterprise: up to 249 employees and up to € 50 million turnover/year and no micro or small enterprise

Interconnections of SMEs with other enterprises cannot (yet) be considered in official statistics.



For further information