This site has been archived on 02/02/2015

Navigation path

Additional tools

Enterprise & Industry Magazine

Unleashing Europe's entrepreneurial potential to bring back growth

All Rights Reserved © Jens Lennartsson/Getty Images

To return to growth and higher levels of employment, Europe needs more entrepreneurs. New companies, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), create more than 4 million new jobs every year – the biggest source of new jobs in Europe. Recognising the integral role entrepreneurs play in economic recovery, the European Commission has launched the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan. A combination of investments, regulatory advances and educational opportunities, the Action Plan will help return economic growth to Europe.

As a way to support entrepreneurs and revolutionise entrepreneurial culture in Europe, European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani presented the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan in January 2013. The plan stresses the key role of education and training to nurture new generations of entrepreneurs, and includes specific measures to help budding entrepreneurs among young people, women, seniors, migrants and the unemployed.

The plan also tackles obstacles to entrepreneurship by establishing ambitious measures to facilitate start-ups and new businesses; make transfers of business ownership more successful; improve access to finance; and give honest entrepreneurs a second chance after bankruptcy.

‘To make it very clear: more entrepreneurs mean more jobs, more innovation and more competitiveness,’ Tajani said. ‘Becoming an entrepreneur and making a vision come true takes a lot of personal risk and effort. Entrepreneurs are the heroes of our time. Entrepreneurship is the most powerful driver of economic growth in history. Therefore, we want to make entrepreneurship an attractive and accessible prospect for European citizens. If we can unleash Europe's entrepreneurial potential, we can bring back growth to Europe.’

The Entrepreneurship Action Plan covers a number of key areas where action is needed to create an environment in which entrepreneurs can flourish and grow, such as:

  • Access to finance: In addition to strengthening its existing financial instruments, the Commission also proposes the creation of a European market for microfinance, as well as the simplification of tax structures. These moves would allow SMEs to raise funds via direct private investments like mini-bonds, crowd funding and angel investments.
  • Support during crucial phases of the business lifecycle: As about 50 % of companies fail in their first five years, Member States should devote greater resources to helping new businesses get through this critical period. Management training, R&D coaching and networking could all help new businesses survive.
  • New business opportunities in the digital age: SMEs grow two to three times faster when they embrace information and communications technology (ICT). Support for Web-based start-ups and ICT training can help both Web entrepreneurs and more traditional businesses.
  • Second chances for honest entrepreneurs after bankruptcy: By far, the majority (96 %) of bankruptcies are due to a string of late payments or other practical problems. Because ‘second starters’ are more successful, the Commission has proposed increasing support for a second start for honest failed entrepreneurs and shortening the maximum legal discharge time for them to three years.
  • Administrative simplification: The Commission will continue to vigorously pursue the reduction of regulatory burden.

The Commission also intends to promote entrepreneurship in specific segments of the population:

  • Women's entrepreneurial potential: The fact that women only account for 34.4 % of self-employed Europeans suggests that they need more encouragement and support to become entrepreneurs.
  • Senior citizens: Retired business people have precious know-how that should be transferred to future generations to make it easier for them to start companies.
  • Migrant populations: Often facing difficulties in the labour market, self-employment is a precious opportunity for migrants’ economic empowerment and social inclusion.
  • Business development support for unemployed: Unemployed Europeans should have access to training, business advice and mentorship.

The Commission is working closely with Member States, business organisations and relevant stakeholders to implement the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan to help lead Europe out of the crisis.


More information available online at:

Share: FacebookGoogle+LinkedInsend this page to a friend