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Annual Report on European SMEs 2017/2018

SMEs growing beyond borders

The present report is part of the 2017/18 SME Performance Review. The year 2018 is a special year, as the Small Business Act (SBA) celebrates its tenth anniversary and also, in the autumn of 2018, it will be ten years since the financial and economic crisis of 2008 hit the world economy. Therefore, in addition to reviewing the recent economic performance of SMEs, the report also examines in greater detail the achievements of the SBA and the contribution of EU-28 SMEs to the recovery of the EU-28 economy from the depths of the recession in 2008/09.

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In addition, as in previous years, the report presents the results of an in-depth analysis of a special topic of particular relevance for SMEs in the European Union. This year’s special topic is the participation of SMEs in the global economy and the extent to which they engage in cross-border activities through trade, foreign direct investment, licensing, etc.

The analysis in the present report focuses on SMEs in the non-financial business sector. This broad sector includes almost all sectors of the economies of the EU-28 Member States.

SMEs comprise three different categories of enterprises, namely micro-enterprises, small enterprises and medium-sized enterprises. The official EC definition of SMEs takes account of three different factors (level of employment, level of turnover, and size of the balance sheet). However, the data in the present report are based only on the employment definition, since this is the definition used by the Structural Business Statistics (SBS) database maintained by Eurostat, the main data source for the report.