(L-R) Gilles Scholtus, head of General Directorate for SMEs, Craft and Retail; Lex Delles, Luxembourg's Minister of the Economy, SMEs, Energy and Tourism; Credit: MECO

On Monday 8 July 2024, Luxembourg's Minister of the Economy, SMEs, Energy and Tourism, Lex Delles, presented the 2023 report of the General Directorate for SMEs, Craft and Retail.

As reported by Luxembourg's Ministry of the Economy, various statistics on business permits as well as state aid are published annually, in the context of a desire for transparency and optimisation. This provides an overview of the evolution of the economic environment for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

On the one hand, the 2023 report indicates that requests for business permits dropped slightly (-6%) from 12,566 in 2022 to 11,789 in 2023. On the other hand, prior declaration certificates from cross-border companies recorded a slight increase (+4%). Concerning the creation of new businesses, 5,622 first applications for a business permit were recorded in 2023, which represents a stable development compared to 2022 (-0.04%). Net business growth (businesses created minus businesses closed) was positive with 1,048 new entities.

A positive trend was also evident in the area of ​​prior declaration certificates. The activities of cross-border craft businesses which are not established in Luxembourg, but which provide services here, are subject to a prior declaration giving rise to such a certificate. 5,053 certificate requests were received in 2023 (compared to 4,851 in 2022), which corresponds to the second highest number ever recorded.

The ministry added that the processing time for business permit applications and requests for prior declaration certificates appeared to have been reduced considerably. The processing time corresponded last year on average to 5.05 days, compared to 6.93 days in 2022 and 8.6 days in 2021. This development is mainly attributed to the digitalisation of internal processes, in particular following the reform of the right of establishment.

Concerning traditional state aid, namely aid relating to the SME framework law, the "Fit 4 Digital" programme, the "SME Packages" programmes, aid for first-time business creation and temporary aid for environmental impact, the number of requests decreased slightly, from 1,387 requests in 2022 to 1,305 requests in 2023. A total of 1,393 requests were granted in 2023 (compared to 1,022 in 2022); the amounts granted increased from €18,797,573 in 2022 to €28,830,079 in 2023, i.e. an increase of 53%.

Minister Delles underlined that "the 2023 assessment of the General Directorate for SMEs, Craft and Retail demonstrates that the SME sector remains dynamic and continues to invest. We promote an attractive environment for businesses, in which they can develop and gain productivity and competitiveness. Through concrete measures, we support the digitalisation and resilience of businesses while continuing to simplify the internal procedures of the Ministry of the Economy."