This article presents structural business statistics (SBS); these data describe the structure, main characteristics and performance of economic activities across the European Union (EU). While the statistics presented in this article are generally analysed at the level of NACE sections readers should note that structural business statistics are available at a much more detailed level (several hundred sectors).
Structural business statistics can provide answers to questions on the wealth creation (value added), investment and labour input of different economic activities. The data can be used to analyse structural shifts, for example from industry to services, country specialisations in particular activities, sectoral productivity and profitability, as well as a range of other topics. Because they are available broken down by enterprise size class, structural business statistics also permit a detailed analysis of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which is of particular use to EU policymakers and analysts wishing to focus on entrepreneurship and the role of SMEs. Furthermore, structural business statistics provide useful background information on which to base an interpretation of short-term statistics and the business cycle.
Main statistical findings
Services activities accounted for the two largest shares of the enterprise population within the EU-28’s non-financial business economy (industry, construction, distributive trades and non-financial services) when analysed at the NACE section level: slightly fewer than 3 in every 10 (28.4 %) of the 22.1 million enterprises in the EU’s non-financial business economy were classified to distributive trades (motor trades, wholesale trade and retail trade), while just under one in six (17.2 %) were in professional, scientific or technical activities — see Figure 1. Many of these business services have benefitted from the outsourcing phenomenon, which may explain, in part, the structural shift towards services.