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What does the term SME that we see in most financing programs mean?

SMEs mean small and medium enterprises (very small, small and medium) as defined by the European Union (Commission recommendation 2003/361).

These are companies that have less than 250 EME (Annual Work Units) and their annual turnover does not exceed 50 million euros or their total annual balance sheet does not exceed 43 million euros.

But what exactly are the criteria for the characterization of businesses?

Criterion 1: Employment of workers expressed in EME

EME (Annual Work Units) is a unit of measurement of the company's employment. Therefore, depending on the EME number held by a company, it is characterized as:

  • up to 10 IU = very small 
  • up to 50 EMU = small
  • up to 250 EMU = medium

Criterion 2: Turnover

Based on its annual turnover, a business is characterized as:

  • up to 2 million euros = very small 
  • up to 10 million euros = small 
  • up to 50 million euros = medium

Criterion 3: Total balance sheet

Based on the entire annual balance sheet, a company is characterized as:

  • up to 2 million euros = very small 
  • up to 10 million euros = small 
  • up to 43 million euros = medium

While all criteria are considered cumulatively, the criteria 2 and 3 apply interchangeably. In other words, it is enough for the company to respect the limits of either the turnover or the balance sheet.

Criterion 4: Consecutive years

The control for the successful characterization of the size of the single enterprise concerns the control of the above criteria in the last 3 closed management years. 

Criterion 5: Relationships with other businesses

For the accurate characterization of an enterprise as small and medium-sized, the financial data for enterprises that participate in the enterprise or when the enterprise participates in them with a percentage of more than 25% in capital, voting rights, management and decision-making are also taken into account.

Small and medium-sized enterprises are a priority in the European Union's plans to promote entrepreneurship, as they contribute to the promotion of employment, the maintenance of competitiveness and the progress of the national and European economy. 

A multitude of actions are expected in the new NSRF 2021-2027 programming period and Resilience and Recovery Fund that will primarily concern SMEs.

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What does the term SME that we see in most financing programs mean?

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