DG Enterprise has completed a study which estimates the environmental impact of SMEs in Europe, analyses administrative burdens stemming from EU environmental legislation and environmental business opportunities for SMEs, with concrete examples from single enterprises in 13 European countries. Among the most relevant findings, the study confirms that SMEs’ contribution to industrial pollution in Europe is about 64%. Data is often lacking or is not sufficiently detailed, therefore many estimations had to be carried out, and certain impacts are not covered (e.g. emissions into water and soil).
Concerning administrative burdens, the report shows that SMEs recognise that environmental legislation is necessary. They ask for one-stop-shops, streamlined reporting, improved permitting procedures and subsidies.


Opportunities identified include cost reductions due to environmental measures, but the appropriate instrument needs to be chosen for the SME. The eco-market represents another important opportunity. Here, SMEs need support for marketing campaigns of their eco-products, easier certification of environmentally friendly products and sector-specific events highlighting eco-industry opportunities.


The study is accompanied by a web-based toolkit to assist policy-makers and SMEs in developing environmental improvements. For the first time a database was set up on the environmental impact of SMEs by size class and sector.

Download the complete study