Growth slowed last year for Europe’s SMEs, according to figures released in the European Commission’s annual performance review – but this year’s outlook is brighter.
There are 21.6m SMEs scattered across the EU’s 28 member nations, generating €3.666 trillion in value added and employing 88.8m people.
Economic recovery in the UK and across the continent is largely being powered by these SMEs, but last year, the review found that smaller businesses struggled during 2013, employing 1.9 million fewer people than they had before the crash.
This year, says the Comission, there are “signs of positive economic recovery,” with the value added by SMEs expected to grow by 2.8% this year and 3.4% next year. Employment is also expected to creep up, by an underwhelming 0.1% in 2014 and a more positive 0.7% in 2015.
“The continued difficulties facing SMEs underline the need for the EU and the member states to continue their efforts to improve the business climate,” said Ferdinando Nelli Feroci, commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship.
“We need SMEs to create jobs and the indicators published make it clear that more needs to be done to address obstacles such as difficulty accessing finance if we are to achieve sustained growth among SMEs all across the EU.”