SMEs are the backbone of the EU economy and have been placed in the focus of European policy following the adoption of the Small Business Act in 2008. This study makes a comprehensive overview of EU support initiatives for SMEs in the period 2007-2015 with the aim to assess the effectiveness of EU SME policies – both in terms of their formulation and implementation. On the basis of a literature review and five case studies with SME representatives in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Italy and Hungary, this study tries to identify progress made along the key priority areas of EU SME policies: burden reduction; promotion of entrepreneurship; access to markets and internationalization; access to finance; competitiveness and innovation and key support networks in order to outline challenges that still impede SMEs’ growth. The results demonstrate that despite the numerous initiatives launched, EU SME policies could still benefit from a shift towards diversification of support measures, simplification of applicable rules and optimisation of communication and collaboration with SMEs and SME organisations. This will enable the addressing of SMEs’ heterogeneity and diverse needs in an effective manner. The Study draws conclusions about challenges on the level of the policy priority areas and recommendations about the ways the effectiveness of the policies can be improved.