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SME definition of the European Commission

The European Commission defines micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the EU Recommendation 2003/361. According to this, SMEs have up to 249 employees and an annual turnover not exceeding € 50 million or a balance sheet total not exceeding € 43 million.

SME thresholds of the EU since 1 January 2005

Number of
in € p.a.
orBalance sheet
total in €r
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 million
SME overallunder 250 up to 50 million up to 43 million

These threshold values apply to individual enterprises (defined as legal units). If the company is part of a larger enterprise group, the SME status depends on the aggregated values for the entire group.

The EU uses the above mentioned SME definition (including the independence criterion) when deciding about access to funds and EU funding programmes targeted at SMEs.

For statistical/empirical analyses, the EU defines different subgroups of SMEs by their employment and turnover size

  • Micro enterprises: up to 9 employees and up to €2 million turnover p.a.
  • Small enterprises: up to 49 employees and up to €10 million turnover p.a. (excluding micro enterprises)
  • Medium-sized enterprises: up to 249 employees and up to €50 million turnover p.a. (excluding micro and small enterprises).

Due to a lack of corresponding data, EU SME statistics (still) do not consider linkages between SMEs and company groups.

For further information