SME-definition of the European Commission

The EU-Recommendation 2003/361 defines micro, small and medium-sized en-terprises (SMEs). Accordingly, an en-terprise is classified as being an SME, if it does not have more than 249 em-ployees and if its annual turnover does not exceed 50 million € or its balance sheet total is less than 43 million €.

SME threshold values of the EU since 01/01/2005

Enterprise sizeNumber of employeesandAnnual turnover in € orBalance sheet total €
Microto 9  to 2 Million € to 2 Million €
Smallto 49 to 10 Million € to 10 Million €
Medium-sizedto 249 to 50 Million € to 43 Million €


These threshold values are valid for independent enterprises. If an enterprise is part of a company group, the employment, turnover and balance sheet data of the group have to be considered, depending on the actual level of participation. For statistical/empirical analyses, SMEs are usually defined by referring (only) to employment and turnover size:

  • Micro-enterprise: max. 9 employees and max. 2 million € annual turnover
  • Small enterprise: max. 49 employees and max. 10 million € annual turno-ver (and not being a micro-enterprise)
  • Medium-sized enterprise: max. 249 employees and max. 50 million € an-nual turnover (and not being a micro- or small enterprise)

Ownership links between SMEs and other enterprises cannot be considered (yet) in the official statistics.

Futher information

Europäische Commission: What is an SME?