POLICY DEPARTMENT. Fisheries POLICY DEPARTMENT STRUCTURAL AND COHESION POLICIES STRUCTURAL AND COHESION POLICIES

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1 CATALOGUE AFT PRE-RELEASE!! DRAFT! DRAFT PRE-RELEASE!! DRAFT! DRAFT PRE-RELEASE!! DRAFT Directorate-General FOR Internal Policies POLICY DEPARTMENT STRUCTURAL AND COHESION POLICIES Directorate-General FOR Internal Policies POLICY DEPARTMENT STRUCTURAL AND COHESION POLICIES B B anddevelopment Rural Development AgricultureAgriculture and Rural and Education CultureCulture and Education Role The Policy Departments are research units that provide specialised advice to committees, inter-parliamentary delegations and other parliamentary bodies. Fisheries Fisheries Regional Development Regional Development Policy Areas Transport Tourism Transport and and Tourism Agriculture and Rural Development Culture and Education Fisheries Regional Development Transport and Tourism SMES IN THE COHESION POLICY MANAGEMENT CYCLE Documents Visit the European Parliament website: PHOTO CREDIT: istock International Inc., Photodisk, Phovoir STUDY EN FR 2013

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3 DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR INTERNAL POLICIES POLICY DEPARTMENT B: STRUCTURAL AND COHESION POLICIES REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT SMES IN THE COHESION POLICY MANAGEMENT CYCLE STUDY

4 This document was requested by the European Parliament's Committee on Regional Development. AUTHORS CSIL Centre for Industrial Studies (Italy) PPMI Public Policy and Management Institute (Lithuania) RESPONSIBLE ADMINISTRATORS Ms Kathrin Maria Rudolf Mr Marek Kołodziejski Policy Department Structural and Cohesion Policies European Parliament B-1047 Brussels EDITORIAL ASSISTANCE Virginija KELMELYTE LINGUISTIC VERSIONS Original: EN Translation: FR ABOUT THE EDITOR To contact the Policy Department or to subscribe to its monthly newsletter please write to: Manuscript completed in April European Union, This document is available on the Internet at: DISCLAIMER The opinions expressed in this document are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the European Parliament. Reproduction and translation for non-commercial purposes are authorized, provided the source is acknowledged and the publisher is given prior notice and sent a copy.

5 DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR INTERNAL POLICIES POLICY DEPARTMENT B: STRUCTURAL AND COHESION POLICIES REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT SMES IN THE COHESION POLICY MANAGEMENT CYCLE STUDY Abstract This study explores the specific challenges faced by SMEs and SME support entities when they access and take advantage of funding made available through the Cohesion Policy. On the basis of a literature review, six case studies, an e-survey and in-depth interviews, this study tries to identify the critical issues encountered by SMEs and their support entities along all the phases of the Cohesion Policy programme and project management cycle, from programming to implementation. It draws conclusions about the improvements that are needed in order to ensure that SMEs take optimal advantage of Structural Funds and puts forward specific recommendations for the Committee on Regional Development of the European Parliament. IP/B/REGI/FWC/2010_002/LOT1/C2/SC2 April 2013 PE EN

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7 SMEs in the cohesion policy management cycle CONTENTS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 15 INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND COHESION POLICY AND SMES: SUPPORT, MANAGEMENT CYCLE AND POTENTIAL ISSUES SMEs and Cohesion Policy budget and types of intervention Cohesion Policy management cycle who does what Issues for SMEs THE CASE OF TRADITIONAL INSTRUMENTS: GRANTS Selected measures and context Main issues per phase Summary THE CASE OF FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS The selected measures and context Main issues by phase Summary THE ROLE OF SME SUPPORT ENTITIES Presentation of the e-survey The contribution of SME support entities by cycle phase The contribution of SME support entities: strengths and limits Summary CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Areas for improvement: main findings Initiatives in the revised EC regulations Recommendations 108 REFERENCES 117 ANNEX I. SME RELEVANT INFORMATION AND DATA 117 ANNEX II. SELECTION PROCESS OF CASE STUDIES 119 ANNEX III. SURVEY 127 ANNEX IV. QUESTIONNAIRES OF CASE STUDIES 131 ANNEX V. QUESTIONNAIRE OF SURVEY 141 ANNEX VI. A GOOD PRACTICE FROM TERRITORIAL COOPERATION PROJECTS 147 ANNEX VII. SIX CASE STUDY REPORTS 149 5

8 Policy Department B: Structural and Cohesion Policies 6

9 SMEs in the cohesion policy management cycle LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AA Audit Authority AIR Annual Implementation Report CA Certifying Authority CF Cohesion Fund CRD Capital Requirements Directives CSF Common Strategic Framework DG Directorate-General of the European Commission DG EMPL European Commission Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion DG REGIO European Commission Directorate-General for Regional Policy DMI Domain of Major Interventions EAFRD European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development EC European Commission EIB European Investment Bank EIF European Investment Fund EP European Parliament ERDF European Regional Development Fund ERI Expenditure Review Initiative ESF European Social Fund ETC European Territorial Cooperation EU European Union EU-12 The 12 New EU Member States EU-15 The 15 EU Member States before the integration of the 12 candidate countries in EU-25 The 25 Member States of the EU, EU-27 The 27 EU Member States following the integration of Romania and Bulgaria in 2007 FEIs Financial Engineering Instruments GDP Gross Domestic Product GVA Gross Value Added IB(s) Intermediate Body(ies) ICT Information Communication Technology JASMINE Joint Action to Support Micro-finance Institutions in Europe JASPERS Joint Assistance in Supporting Projects in European Regions JEREMIE Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises JESSICA Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas MA(s) Managing Authority(ies) MAS Manufacturing Advisory Service III MS Member State MECMA Ministry of Economy, Trade and Business Environment 7

10 Policy Department B: Structural and Cohesion Policies NACE Nomenclature Générale des Activités Economiques dans l Union Européene (General Classification of Economic Activities in the European Union) NCGF National Credit Guarantee Fund NEFI Network of European Financial Institutions NGOs Non-Governmental Organisations NSRF National Strategic Reference Framework NUTS Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics OECD Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development OP(s) Operational Programme(s) PMC Project Management Cycle R&D Research and Development R&TD Research and Technical Development RCB Romanian Commercial Bank RDA Regional Development Agency ROP Regional Operational Programme RTDI Research and Technical Development Infrastructure SBA Small Business Act SFs Structural Funds SICI Enterprise Development of Central Italy (Sviluppo Imprese Centro Italia) SME(s) Small and Medium-sized Enterprise(s) ToR Terms of Reference UEAPME European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises VAT Value Added Tax WB World Bank 8

11 SMEs in the cohesion policy management cycle COUNTRY CODES AT Austria BE Belgium BG Bulgaria CY Cyprus CZ Czech Republic DE Germany DK Denmark EE Estonia ES Spain FI Finland FR France GR Greece HU Hungary IE Ireland IT Italy LT Lithuania LU Luxembourg LV Latvia MT Malta NL Netherlands PL Poland PT Portugal RO Romania SE Sweden SI Slovenia SK Slovakia UK United Kingdom 9

12 Policy Department B: Structural and Cohesion Policies 10

13 SMEs in the cohesion policy management cycle LIST OF TABLES TABLE 1: Number, employment and GVA in EU-27 by size of SMEs, 2010 estimates 20 TABLE 2: Number of enterprises by industrial sector, EU-27, 2010 estimates 20 TABLE 3: Information on enterprises by country, EU-27, 2012 estimates 21 TABLE 4: SME-related measures under Cohesion Policy 30 TABLE 5: Type of SME support scheme 30 TABLE 6: ERDF expenditure on enterprise support in Objective 1 & 2 regions, , (percentages) 33 TABLE 7: ERDF and ESF allocation by SME-relevant measures (Euro) 34 TABLE 8: JEREMIE holding Fund allocation by country/region 36 TABLE 9: Commitments to enterprise support from the ERDF and CF in EU12 by Member State, (% of total allocation) 37 TABLE 10: Commitments to enterprise support from the ERDF and CF in EU15 by Member State, (% of total allocation) 37 TABLE 11: Possible issues arising at each phase of Cohesion Policy programme/project management cycles 54 TABLE 12: Issues related to financial instruments by phase of the programme management cycle 57 TABLE 13: SME-related measures analysed 64 TABLE 14: Measures of financial engineering instruments analysed 76 TABLE 15: Moving towards a reduction in the administrative burden for beneficiaries 107 TABLE A.1. Classification of SMEs by size and turnover 117 TABLE A.2. Characteristics of Member States selected for case studies

14 Policy Department B: Structural and Cohesion Policies TABLE A.3. Measures covered in the case studies 124 TABLE A.4. OPs and measures selected for the case studies 125 TABLE A.5. Summary table of the measures considered 150 TABLE A.6. Allocation of financial resources by Priority Axis and Field of Action 160 TABLE A.7. Programme s achievements by Priority Axis 161 TABLE A.8. Breakdown of financing by Priority Axis (Euro) 170 TABLE A.9. Breakdown of financing by Priority Axis (Euro) 178 TABLE A.10. Breakdown of financing per Priority Axis of the Economic Growth OP 185 TABLE A.11. Breakdown of financing per Priority Axis of the OP for Human Resources Development 187 TABLE A.12. Administrative system for EU financial assistance under the Economic Growth OP and the Human Resources Development OP 188 TABLE A.13. Breakdown of financing by Priority Axis (Euro)

15 SMEs in the cohesion policy management cycle LIST OF FIGURES FIGURE 1: Most important problems faced by SMEs 22 FIGURE 2: Expenditure rates from the ERDF on enterprise support in Objective 1 & 2 regions, FIGURE 3: ERDF and ESF allocations for SME support by Member State* 35 FIGURE 4: ERDF and ESF allocations for SME support by Member State* 36 FIGURE 5: Programme and Project Management Cycle 41 FIGURE 6: Flow of funds from an OP down to the SMEs 48 FIGURE 7: The most problematic issues faced by SMEs during the access and implementation phases, as identified by SME support entities 73 FIGURE 8: Share of respondents by level of intervention and compared to the target group 86 FIGURE 9: Share of respondents by category of SME represented 86 FIGURE 10: SME support entities by type of experience with SFs 87 FIGURE 11: Share of respondents by level of involvement 87 FIGURE 12: Share of respondents by level of involvement and type of SME represented 88 FIGURE 13: The contribution of SME support entities by phase and issue 89 FIGURE 14: The contribution of SME support entities in the programming phase 90 FIGURE 15: The contribution of SME support entities in the programming phase by type of SME represented 91 FIGURE 16: The contribution of SME support entities in the access phase 92 FIGURE 17: The contribution of SME support entities in the access phase by type of SME represented 93 FIGURE 18: The contribution of SME support entities in the implementation phase 94 FIGURE 19: The contribution of SME support entities in the implementation phase by type of SME represented 94 FIGURE 20: Problematic issues from the SMEs point of view and the contribution from SME support entities 96 13

16 Policy Department B: Structural and Cohesion Policies FIGURE 21: Factors limiting the contribution from SME support entities 97 FIGURE 22: Factors limiting the contribution of SME support entities by the size of the SMEs represented 97 FIGURE 23: Factors ensuring that SMEs take advantage of SFs 102 FIGURE 24: Factors ensuring that SMEs take advantage of SFs by the size of SME represented 102 FIGURE A.1. Share and volume of SFs (ERDF and ESF) allocated to SME support in the programming period 120 FIGURE A.2. Number of SMEs and share of SMEs out of the total number of enterprises by Member State (2012) 120 FIGURE A.3. Contribution of SMEs to national employment and value added generation (2012) 121 FIGURE A.4. Number of respondents per country 128 FIGURE A.5. The Tuscany NUTS 2 region 149 FIGURE A.6. The North East England NUTS 1 region 158 FIGURE A.7. Main issues faced by SME support entities and SMEs with the North East England ERDF Programme and the JEREMIE initiative 167 FIGURE A.8. The Western Finland NUTS 2 region 169 FIGURE A.9. The Saxony NUTS-1 region 176 FIGURE A.10. Lithuania 184 FIGURE A.11. Financial engineering measures 186 FIGURE A.12. Romania 196 FIGURE A.13. Consultancy support for SMEs: distribution of funded projects by implementation status (December 2011). 200 LIST OF BOXES BOX A.1. Autonomous, partner and linked enterprises

17 SMEs in the cohesion policy management cycle EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Background Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the EU economy and Cohesion Policy is a privileged source of funding and support for SME development. Yet, there is converging evidence that SMEs face specific difficulties in taking advantage of Structural Funds (SFs). This study identifies and provides a clear understanding of the critical issues encountered by SMEs and SME support entities along the different phases of the programme and project management cycle of Cohesion Policy. It is based on a literature review, six regional case studies across the EU-27, an e-survey addressed to SME support entities and in-depth interviews. Main findings The combined results from the different research activities identify a series of findings summarised in the following bullet points. The intensity of the issues faced by SMEs and SME support entities varies according to the phase of the programme management cycle. At first sight the programming phase appears to be the least problematic. However, the case studies highlighted some difficulties in taking all potential applicants into account and in devising strategies that respond to the specific needs of local SMEs. The access and implementation phases are characterised by a series of specific difficulties. The application process in particular represents a serious hurdle. The following issues were identified: doubts concerning eligibility rules; inadequate guidelines; difficulties in securing matching funds; lack of transparency of the selection process; time taken to reach a decision as to whether a project will be funded or not. During the implementation phase, issues are by definition less dissuasive (since projects have already been accepted), however, different sources of evidence suggest that the combination of complex procedures and other difficulties might deter SMEs from making subsequent applications. The following issues were identified as problematic: accounting for eligible expenditure; time frame for payments; setting up and running a monitoring system; auditing. High barriers for new entrants. Weaknesses during programming when not all specific needs are always taken into account, combined with difficulties in the application phase, bring about an adverse selection effect. Beneficiaries tend to be the same throughout the programming periods as they take advantage of a learning process and benefit from economies of scale. 15

18 Policy Department B: Structural and Cohesion Policies Moreover, there is clear evidence that successful applications come from those who are best equipped (in terms of experience and resources). There is a cultural clash between the SFs administrative approach and SMEs daily business practices, which is better dealt with through financial instruments than through traditional non-refundable grants. Evidence from the case studies shows that SMEs are poorly equipped to manage the vast quantity of documents necessary to successfully take advantage of SFs and engage in all the activities foreseen in order to fulfil the long list of requirements. Taken together, these different obligations might prove to be intolerable, especially when they offer no apparent advantage from the SMEs perspective (e.g. establishing a monitoring system with indicators and targets that are not necessarily pertinent or useful from the SMEs point of view). This tension is minor in the case of financial instruments that are more business friendly (e.g. with respect to the important issue of the speed of the selection process in order to keep up with market developments). At the same time, it is clear that financial instruments are better adapted to SMEs that are fittest. There is, therefore, a paradox whereby grants reserved for the most vulnerable SMEs impose a burden that might be unbearable, while financial instruments propose business-oriented solutions that the more developed SMEs find easier to deal with. There is a series of issues originating at the national (regional) level that add to the requirements imposed by SF regulations. First, cultural factors appear to be relevant in explaining specific attitudes to public funding, which can be decisive in accounting for SMEs expectations and their approach to SFs. Also, in a shared management context, additional practices and requirements are modelled and imposed at national/regional level alongside those strictly related to SFs. The role of SME support entities and of the governance structure. SME support entities appear to play a potentially decisive role. They are expected to be highly valuable in providing relevant and useful information, in facilitating communications and, hence, in mitigating the cultural clash mentioned above. They are particularly important during the access phase, but they can also play a useful role during implementation. Their contribution can be decisive if embedded in a favourable governance structure allowing them act as true intermediaries between the MA and SMEs. The role of the Intermediate Body seems to be another important factor in helping SMEs to take advantage of SFs. Size matters. The e-survey shows that the SME support entities dealing with very small SMEs have a slightly different perspective than their counterparts that deal with larger SMEs, suggesting that the size of the SMEs supported has an impact on whether and how they can take advantage of SFs. For example, SME support entities representing the smallest SMEs would like to be more involved in the preparation of programming documents to make sure that the specific needs of their members are taken into account. 16

19 SMEs in the cohesion policy management cycle Recommendations On the basis of the above findings and of a review of initiatives already taken at EU level in the context of the post-2013 reform of Cohesion Policy, the following recommendations are proposed: Ensure that the conditions for a true partnership are fulfilled. Since SME support entities appear to be decisive in facilitating SMEs access to and use of SFs, it is necessary that the former be acknowledged as fully-fledged partners during the different phases of the programme management cycle. This can help to bridge the cultural gap between SMEs practices and the SFs approach and also to deal with more specific issues like the importance of taking into account the specific needs of different categories of SMEs, or factors at national/regional level (e.g. cultural factors or particular regulatory requirements). Reduce the number of requirements imposed on SMEs (not only their complexity). The EC must do its best to reduce the cultural clash between SMEs practices and the SFs approach. A more business-friendly approach must be embraced. One way to go about this is to allow partnerships to decide on some issues, instead of legislating about them at EU level. Support local capabilities and ensure that local pre-conditions are met in terms of governance structure. Two important prerequisites to ensure that SFs benefit SMEs are MAs that are responsive and well-equipped, and an adequate institutional framework. Pursue the effort towards digitalisation. Evidence shows the great potential that e-cohesion might bring. Care should be taken so that it does not represent a source of complexity for SMEs with low digital literacy. This requires dedicated support to the more vulnerable SMEs. Further promote financial instruments. Financial instruments seem to palliate two weaknesses of traditional non-refundable grants: they are more akin to business practices, and overall less complex from the point of view of the final SME recipients. Their use should be further promoted across the spectrum of SME types, provided that the local institutional context is prepared to receive such instruments. Open up SFs to new entrants. SFs tend to be accessed by SMEs that have previous experience of SFs, and not by those potential applicants most in need of support. If functioning properly, the partnership process invoked above could be part of the solution. 17

20 Policy Department B: Structural and Cohesion Policies Favour communication and information dissemination. More and better communication is an essential factor to improve SMEs uptake of SFs, for example by solving a number of problems related to the interpretation of regulatory requirements during the access and implementation phases. Guidelines prepared in cooperation with the various stakeholders concerned should be disseminated. Training events providing relevant information should be organised. Facilitate complementary funding. Access to complementary funding remains a key obstacle for SMEs wanting to take advantage of SFs. Regulatory obstacles to combining traditional grants and financial instruments must be lifted, and local solutions identified that will guarantee SMEs applications. Reduce decision-making time. One recurrent difficulty is the delay in the selection process for grants. An obligatory deadline for approving/rejecting project proposals should be envisaged. 18

21 SMEs in the cohesion policy management cycle INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND KEY FEATURES Despite the slowdown due to the 2008 financial crisis and the current economic downturn, SMEs remain the backbone of the EU economy and have proved to be a strong engine for growth and job creation. In 2010 they accounted for 99.8% of all European enterprises and provided more than two-thirds of all employment opportunities in the EU-27 private sector. SMEs face common challenges regardless of the sectors to which they belong. The administrative burden, access to sufficient finance, level of taxation, lack of skills and access to public procurement are the main problems hampering the growth of European SMEs. Cohesion Policy is a privileged source of funding and support for SME development. About Euro 70 billion was dedicated to enterprise development over the programming period and a variety of instruments were available in the different fields in which SMEs operate. However, SMEs do not take advantage of SFs as much as they could. The study was designed to identify and provide a clear understanding of the critical issues encountered by SMEs and SME support entities when accessing and benefitting from SFs. All the phases of the programme and project management cycle were investigated. Four key methodological tools were adopted: a literature review, an e- survey, case studies and in-depth interviews. This introductory section clarifies the scope and objectives of the present study and places these in the wider context of SME development in Europe. It concludes by briefly illustrating the methodological approach chosen. SMEs in the EU economy In their diversity, small and medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of the EU economy. Yet, they face common challenges to their development. SMEs as the backbone of the EU economy Between 2002 and 2008 SMEs grew faster than large enterprises and created nearly 9.4 million jobs. 1 However, this impressive growth has recently and temporarily slowed down. SMEs were seriously hit by the 2008 financial crisis and the current economic downturn. Small companies face a double shock and are extremely vulnerable. On the demand side they have seen a drop in markets and in consumers purchasing power. On the supply side a tightening of credit terms has depleted the working capital of many companies and hampered investment plans. 2 Their vulnerability is due to their more limited diversification than the large enterprises, and to their weak capitalisation that makes SMEs heavily depended on credit. Although the situation varies considerably across Member States, regions and sectors, signs of economic recovery are weak everywhere. 1 EIM Business & Policy Research (2009a). 2 OECD (2009). 19

22 Policy Department B: Structural and Cohesion Policies Despite the slowdown due to the financial crisis, SMEs remain the backbone of the EU economy and have proved to be a strong engine for growth and job creation. Indeed, in 2010, there were almost 20.8 million SMEs in the EU, which accounted for 99.8% of all European enterprises, and 19.2 million of these were micro-firms with fewer than ten employees. Moreover, in 2010 SMEs provided more than two-thirds (87.5 million) of all the employment opportunities in the EU-27 private sector and 58.4% of the total Gross Value Added (GVA) produced by private businesses in the EU. 3 The main indicators for EU SMEs for the year 2011 given in the following table show both the importance and the diversity of SMEs across Member States and sectors. Table 1: Number, employment and GVA in EU-27 by size of SMEs, 2010 estimates MICRO SMALL MEDIUM SMES LARGE TOTAL Number of enterprises (%) Employment (%) GVA (%) Source: Ecorys (2011) Looking at the industrial sector, according to Ecorys (2011) in 2010 some 12.6 million SMEs, or more than half of all European SMEs, were engaged in the wholesale and retail trade (NACE 4 sector G), real estate, renting and business activities (NACE sector K). 5 Forty percent of larger enterprises were active in manufacturing, while the corresponding share for SMEs was just over 10% in (See Table 2). Table 2: Number of enterprises by industrial sector, EU-27, 2010 estimates MICRO SMALL MEDIUM SMEs LARGE C-K Total non-financial business economy 19,198,539 1,378, ,252 20,796,192 43,034 by NACE section C Mining and quarrying 15,667 4, , D Manufacturing 1,760, ,564 77,335 2,149,811 17,226 E Electricity, gas and water supply 34,753 3,815 2,213 40, F Construction 2,789, ,857 22,385 3,020,478 2,373 G Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles and 5,968, ,222 42,324 6,371,846 6,948 personal and household goods H Hotels and restaurants 1,552, ,018 12,066 1,715,658 1,527 3 Ecorys (2011). 4 Statistical Classification of Economic Activities in the European Community. 5 The main activities of NACE sector K encompass a wide range of economic activities including three subsections of real estate activities, four subsections of renting of machinery and equipment without an operator and of personal and household goods, six subsections of computer and related activities, two subsections of research and development, and eight subsections of other business activities. 20

23 SMEs in the cohesion policy management cycle I K Transport, storage and communication Real estate, renting and business activities 1,109,424 93,533 16,956 1,219,913 4,046 5,967, ,598 45,032 6,256,303 9,646 Source: Eurostat/National Statistics Offices of Member States/Cambridge Econometrics/Ecorys from Ecorys (2011). As for the SMEs geographical distribution, the following table shows that France, Italy, Poland and Spain account for the largest share of micro enterprises of the total number of enterprises and that in these countries the SMEs employ a large number of people and produce a higher added value. Table 3: Information on enterprises by country, EU-27, 2012 estimates COUNTRY MICRO < 10 SMALL MEDIUM SME TOTAL NUMBER OF ENTER- PRISES MICRO/T OTAL ENTER- PRISES SMEs/ TOTAL ENTER PRISE S NO. OF PERSONS EMPLOYED VALUE ADDED AT FACTORY PRICES Austria 273,671 30,386 4, , , ,722, ,495.7 Belgium 408,801 27,928 4, , , ,710, ,060.9 Bulgaria 267,198 23,784 4, , , ,479, ,908.2 Cyprus 38,574 3, ,212 42, , ,401.5 Czech 913,055 32,934 7, , , ,377, ,151.9 Denmark 180,751 21,534 3, , , ,151, ,597.0 Estonia 45,107 5,722 1,088 51,917 52, , ,061.9 Finland 208,166 12,925 2, , , , ,750.8 France 2,499, ,027 22,101 2,673,799 2,678, ,850, ,978.9 Germany 1,589, ,808 45,814 1,897,142 1,906, ,899, ,861.0 Greece 694,667 22,161 2, , , ,089, ,048.0 Hungary 516,801 27,139 4, , , ,884, ,973.9 Ireland 71,239 12,281 2,209 85,729 86, , ,108.0 Italy 3,521, ,522 19,196 3,728,934 3,731, ,331, ,657.8 Latvia 64,948 8,802 1,556 75,306 75, , ,670.2 Lithuania 267,032 12,280 2, , , , ,989.3 Luxembo 24,314 2, ,672 27, , ,543.1 Malta 41,137 1, ,628 42, , ,111.4 Netherla 539,216 50,621 8, , , ,745, ,000.6 Poland 1,512,756 42,861 15,700 1,571,317 1,574, ,024, ,387.7 Portugal 1,043,330 38,270 5,466 1,087,066 1,087, ,617, ,151.8 Romania 491,782 51,440 9, , , ,104, ,556.1 Slovakia 55,301 19,730 1,919 76,950 77, , ,156.1 Slovenia 100,769 6,542 1, , , , ,325.7 Spain 2,259, ,052 17,595 2,421,876 2,424, ,417, ,489.5 Sweden 558,168 28,283 5, , , ,917, ,642.6 UK 1,477, ,698 27,160 1,672,037 1,678, ,841, ,998.7 Source: Authors based on database for the Annual report 2010/2011 on European SMEs. Available at: Note: Sector: All sectors (NACE C- K) Challenges to SME development European SMEs share common challenges regardless of the sectors to which they belong. According to a study carried out by the European Commission in 2008, 6 the most important problems that European SMEs face and which hamper their growth are: i) the administrative 6 European Commission (2008a). 21

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