Industry, trade and services introduced
From Statistics Explained
- Latest update of text: September 2012
The European Commission’s enterprise policies aim to create a favourable environment for business to thrive within the European Union (EU), thus creating higher productivity, economic growth, jobs and wealth. Policies are aimed at reducing administrative burden, stimulating innovation, encouraging sustainable production, and ensuring the smooth functioning of the EU’s internal market.
The single market
European industry contributes to output, jobs, innovation and exports and is interrelated with service activities. Indeed, many service activities such as transport, information and communication depend on industry to produce the equipment and hardware which they use. The internal market for goods is one of the EU's most important and continuing priorities which aims to create a user-friendly environment for businesses and consumers. Creating a single market for the service sector – one of the main drivers of the EU’s economy – relies largely on the opportunities available for businesses to provide services throughout the EU, and for other businesses and individuals to access such services.
In April 2011, leading up to the twentieth anniversary of the beginning of the single market, the European Commission released a Communication titled ‘Single Market Act – twelve levers to boost growth and strengthen confidence’ (COM(2011) 206 final), aimed at improving the single market for businesses, workers and consumers. The initiatives within the Communication cover areas as diverse as improving access to finance for SMEs, worker mobility, the regulatory environment, strengthening standardisation, or providing consumers with easier, quicker and cheaper procedures for dispute settlement.
The 20.7 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the EU in 2009 represented 99.8 % of enterprises in the non-financial business economy, and are regarded as a key driver for economic growth, innovation, employment and social integration. The European Commission aims to promote successful entrepreneurship and improve the business environment for SMEs, to allow them to achieve their full potential in the global economy. In June 2008, the ‘Small business act for Europe’ (SBA) was adopted by the European Commission and endorsed by the Council in December 2008. This aims to improve the overall approach to entrepreneurship, permanently anchor the ‘think small first’ principle in policymaking and to promote SMEs’ growth. The SBA is a set of ten principles which should guide the design and implementation of national and EU policies. The results of a review of the SBA were published in February 2011, providing an overview of the progress achieved in implementing the Act and setting out new actions to respond to challenges resulting from the recent financial and economic crisis. Between 2008 and 2010, the European Commission and the EU Member States took measures to ease the administrative burden on small businesses, to facilitate SMEs’ access to funding, and to support their access to global markets.
Europe 2020 strategy: industrial policy and a digital agenda
At a European Council meeting of 26 March 2010, EU leaders set out the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, designed to enhance the competitiveness of the EU and to create more growth and jobs. The latest revision of the integrated economic and employment guidelines (revised as part of the Europe 2020 strategy) includes a guideline to improve the business and consumer environment and modernise Europe’s industrial base.
In October 2010, the European Commission presented a Communication on ‘An industrial policy for the globalisation era’ (COM(2010) 614 final), which provides a blueprint to put industrial competitiveness and sustainability centre stage. This industrial policy establishes a strategic agenda and proposes some broad cross-sectoral measures, as well as tailor-made actions for specific industries, mainly targeting the so-called ‘green innovation’ performance of various sectors.
A European Commission Communication titled ‘A digital agenda for Europe’ (COM(2010) 245 final) outlines policies and actions aimed at maximising the benefit of the digital era to all sections of society. The agenda outlines seven priority areas for action – see the article on information society for more detail.
Further Eurostat information
- Statistics see:
- Statistics by theme
- Industry, trade and services
- Structural business statistics
- Short-term business statistics
- Manufactured goods (Prodcom)
- Information society
- Industry, trade and services