Belgium

  • State of the SMEs: In 2012, there were more than 511 000 SMEs in Belgium’s private business sector, employing some 1.7 million workers and producing about 107 billion EUR in value added to the economy. They represent 99.8% of all businesses and account for 61.6% of the economic value-added and 68.9% of employment in the private non-financial sector.
  • Recovery from the crisis: Belgium’s SME sector has weathered the crisis well, as employment in SMEs increased by 4 % between 2008 and 2012. While the outlook for 2013 and beyond still looks moderately optimistic, some risks have appeared, including ones due to the recent string of closures of large industrial plants. SME-oriented policies are therefore more important than ever.
  • Business environment: Belgium’s SBA policy profile is mixed. Its performance is above the EU average in half of the 10 SBA areas. Innovation is the strength of Belgian SMEs, while the lack of dynamism in entrepreneurship is its weakness. In general, during the past year, the conditions for SMEs have remained unchanged, except for a number of interesting new policy measures, most notably in the areas of entrepreneurship, access to finance, internationalisation, environment and innovation. In some areas such as public administration and internationalisation, elevated costs of doing business were identified as a problem. While the policy measures implemented over the past 12 months are laudable, Belgiumneeds to continue forcing reforms in all SBA policy areas so as to allow for further progress.