What is an SME? 

The definition of an SME is important for access to finance and EU support programmes targeted specifically at these enterprises. Broadly speaking, the main factors determining whether an enterprise is an SME are staff headcount and either turnover or balance sheet total. In the EU, SMEs are defined in the EU Recommendation 2003/361. Companies can also use the SME self-assessment questionnaire and determine whether they are qualified as a SME.  

Industry Opportunities

The future success of European Defence Industry would depend on effective utilisation of human capital and innovation wherever these are to be found in Europe, in SMEs and in suppliers not always associated with defence. EDA’s support to industry is focused around encouraging industry engagement in defence and securing access to funding at EU level.  

Industry Engagement 

EU Funding  

The Agency aims to inform and build capacity among Ministries of Defence and the European defence industry to access EU funding opportunities and programmes. EDA particularly encourages strong involvement of Small-and-Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in EU funding programmes and facilitates defence stakeholders’ access to relevant EU funding mechanisms. At the European level, EDA works to ensure access to EU funding - in a smart, immediate and effective way - through our dedicated EU funding gateway.  

Government Opportunities  

Governments dominate the defence sector through a variety of roles such as regulators, owners, controlling shareholders, funders of R&D and as principal customers. Therefore, it is important that government attention addresses all supplier stakeholders, including SMEs. EDA supports governments to increase SMEs ability to access defence supply chains as well as maximising the added-value they may bring to the development of EU defence capabilities. 


The following publications provide important practical information for SME’s working in the defence sector.  


EDA has undertaken and published a range of studies which aim to support SME’s in the EU.  

Further Information For Industry  

Further useful information can be found in EDA publications listed below 

Contact Us

Working in the defence industry? Should you have any questions, please contact us at smecorner@eda.europa.eu