The European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA) has just published their yearly SME performance review, one of the main tools the European Commission uses to monitor and assess countries’ progress in implementing the SME strategy and the Small Business Act (SBA).
With an emphasis on the priorities under the SME strategy and the SBA, the review brings comprehensive information on the performance of SMEs in the EU and a wealth of data on the status of SMEs in Europe today.
The Impact of COVID-19
The pandemic had a major impact on EU-27 SMEs in 2020, with many SMEs, but not all, facing large declines in sales. Supply disruptions, an upsurge in late payments and operating at a loss were other key challenges faced by many SMEs in 2020. Still, throughout the 2019-2020 period, the European SMEs ecosystem demonstrated at least 3 strengths:
- Indicators related to ‘ease of starting a business’ have substantially improved for most EU Member States. However, various types of regulatory and administrative burden still pose a major challenge.
- Access to finance at EU level has progressed in several indicators over the last decade, especially in terms of public sources of finance and traditional bank lending. However, SMEs believe that the economic outlook marked by Covid-19 has negatively affected their access to finance. Still, only 10% of SMEs report access to finance as one of their main concerns, according to the 2020 SAFE survey.
- Overall substantial progress has been made in key entrepreneurship indicators since 2018/2019, as well as over the last decade. Total early-stage entrepreneurial activity has reached the highest rate recorded. More Europeans than ever intend to start a business in the next 3 years, according to 2019 data, consolidating the significant growth observed in 2018.
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