Industry and Entrepreneurship
Unleashing Europe's entrepreneurial potential to bring back growth
To overcome the EU unemployment crisis Europe needs to create more jobs - but also more entrepreneurs. While it is widely recognised that everybody should have work, it is far less accepted that job-seekers can create their own jobs rather than being hired by someone else.
Europe needs a cultural revolution to change the general view about entrepreneurs. Establishing and running a company should be perceived as being within everybody’s reach.
This is the reality but only a few realise it. Only 37% of surveyed Europeans say that they would prefer being self-employed rather than employees, against 51% in the United States, and 56% in China. The percentage in Europe is decreasing.
"More entrepreneurs mean more jobs, more innovation and more competitiveness. Becoming an entrepreneur and making a dream come true takes a lot of personal risk and effort. Entrepreneurs are the heroes of our time. Entrepreneurship is also the most powerful driver of economic growth in economic history. If we can unleash Europe's entrepreneurial potential, we can bring back growth to Europe."
To reverse this worrying trend the Commission is urging EU countries to include entrepreneurial experiences in their compulsory education curricula. Changing Europeans' mindsets and increasing their appetite to start a business is the first step, but this is pointless if the business environment remains too tough, as it is now often the case. Bureaucratic simplification, especially for small and medium companies, is a priority for the Commission. But it is not enough. We should clear existing hurdles, but also provide support for those most in need.
For this reason, we are actively engaged in helping newly-formed companies, as it is estimated that half of all new businesses fail during their first five years. EU countries are encouraged to devote greater resources to help new firms to get through this critical period, such as management training, R&D coaching, and networking with peers, potential suppliers and clients.
Adequate access to finance is crucial over the entire life of a business. A number of initiatives are underway to eliminate the bottlenecks created during the financial crisis.
The European Commission is also convinced of the importance of giving a second chance to honest entrepreneurs after they experience a bankruptcy, since it is proven that 96% of failures are due to a string of late payments or other practical problems. Rules to transfer business ownerships will also be simplified.
A number of initiatives are in place to help companies acquire e-skills, as it is estimated that SMEs grow two to three times faster when they embrace information technologies. More widespread ICT skills are in everybody’s interest - 90% of jobs will need digital competencies by 2015.