Germany’s SMEs are larger than those in other EU Member States
In July, the European Council adopted a reconstruction plan to help European companies survive the corona crisis as best they can. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) should also benefit from this plan. But how are the SMEs in Europe actually structured? What are the country-specific differences?
Germany has fewer micro-enterprises (maximum of 9 employees) but more small (maximum of 49 employees) and medium-sized enterprises (maximum of 249 employees) than other EU Member States. Overall, the average employment in Germany is 7.6 employees per small and medium-sized enterprise – the EU average is 3.9 employees.
Accordingly, the density of SMEs in Germany is much lower than in the other EU member states: while there are around 3,000 small and medium-sized enterprises per 100,000 inhabitants in Germany, the EU average is almost 4,900 SMEs. The density of SMEs is particularly high in the Czech Republic (9,627 SMEs), Slovakia (8,710) and Portugal (8,645 SMEs). In Germany, 99.5 % of enterprises are small and medium-sized enterprises. They employ about 64 % of all employees and contribute more than 54 % of the total net value added of all enterprises.
About 5% of the employees in manufacturing in Germany work in the high tech sector. By comparison, the EU average is 3.5%. By contrast, in the service sector, an average of 9.3% of SME employees in the EU as a whole work in knowledge-intensive services – significantly more than in Germany (5%).
Every year, the European Commission commissions the compilation of uniform SME statistics for all 28 EU member states (EU-28). However, these so-called Structural Business Statistics from Eurostat do not cover all sectors: therefore, the SME statistics of Eurostat differ significantly from the German SME statistics of IfM Bonn, which are based on the German business register and take into account all economic sectors except agriculture, forestry and fisheries.