Executive summary Ten years ago the Directorate General Enterprise of the European Commission established the Observatory of European SMEs (hereafter referred to as u0093the Observatoryu0094) to respond to a perceived information gap concerning SMEs in Europe. The Observatory considers SMEs to be those business units with fewer than 250 employees, and over the years it has regularly surveyed more than 7,500 business units and produced over twenty thematic reports. In December 2003 the European Commission selected CSIL, Centre for Industrial Studies, and IRS, Institute for Social Research, as independent experts for the ex-post evaluation of the Observatory. The evaluation will be used as a tool to decide the future role and structure of the Observatory, which was set up in 1992 in order to fill an information gap concerning SMEs in Europe. The objective of the evaluation exercise, as set out in the Terms of Reference, was to identify the target population and how effectively it is reached by the Observatory, by evaluating the needs for information on SMEs and assessing the Observatoryu0092s relevance in that regard, by assessing its effectiveness and efficiency and conducting a comparative analysis of alternative solutions.
The website itself is available only in English but most of the reports are offered in German and French or in all the languages of the European Union additionally.