Four new categories of business enterprises: a better vision of the production system
Until now, France defined the business enterprise in purely legal terms. Decree 2008-1354 of 18 December 2008 introduced a definition on economic criteria. The decree lists four categories, which offer a relatively balanced distribution of employment and value added: micro-enterprises; small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs [in French: PMEs]); intermediate-sized enterprises (ISEs [in French: ETIs); and large enterprises. As of December 2007, 2.7 million of France's 2.9 million businesses were micro-enterprises, consisting mostly of very small units in the retail, service, and craft-trade sectors. The 164,000 SMEs (non-micro-enterprises) each employ an average of thirty people and are distributed across all economic sectors. There are also 4,600 ISEs (each employing an average of 650 people) and 240 large enterprises. Exports, enterprise groups, international outreach, and R&D are practically confined to large and intermediate-sized firms. Forty-two percent of ISE employees work in the goods-producing industries, versus an average 27% for all enterprises combined.