The absence of a centralized statistical system in the European Union precludes an accurate identification of all the SMEs and intermediate-sized enterprises (ISEs) existing with this economic area. Having said this, a first step could be taken in establishing an order of magnitude of company transfers at a European level. This is what Thomas Le Dret and Alain Tourdjman, the authors of the latest BPCE L'Observatoire Notes, have been focusing their attention.
Building on the meticulous work carried out in this area in France, it is possible to proceed with an initial appraisal of how things stand in Europe. To the extent that the French productive fabric in the north and east of the country is fairly similar to the North European model (higher density of medium- and intermediate-sized companies) while the south of France is closer to the more fragmented South European model, it is likely that France commands a median position in Europe as a whole with respect to company transfers. Therefore, by applying the precisely quantified transfer rates (per size and industrial sector) for France to the structure of SMEs per size and industrial sector in each country provided by Eurostat, it is possible to establish an initial set of plausible orders of magnitude regarding the transfers of SMEs and ISEs in Europe as a whole. Although still constrained in statistical terms, this estimate has the advantage of highlighting the challenges posed by company transfers in Europe given their economic and social impact: more than 100,000 SMEs and ISEs, and more than 10 million jobs, are concerned every year. This issue seems all the more decisive for Europe's future competitiveness as the ageing of the population is one of the major challenges already facing the EU. The importance of this question is also highlighted by the related study carried out this year for France, showing the extent to which this phenomenon specifically weakens certain regions excluded from the dynamism of metropolitan areas and the development of certain specific sectors such as manufacturing industry.
100,000: estimated number of transfers of SMEs and ISEs in the European Union in 2016
10 million jobs: the estimated number of jobs affected by SME or ISE transfers in Europe every year