Europe needs to create an entrepreneurial culture that permeates our schools and universities – a culture in which creativity and innovation are actively encouraged. After all, 37% of Europeans want to be their own boss, but only 10% actually are. If this potential could be tapped, millions of new businesses could be added to the current 20.8 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the EU. By emphasising entrepreneurship education, educators can turn students’ dreams into tomorrow’s businesses.
In order to prosper, businesses need efficient, cost-effective public services. With a sluggish investment environment and weak access to finance, European enterprises cannot afford to sift through layer upon layer of red tape. The European Commission is therefore finding ways to simplify administrative and regulatory processes and allow businesses to focus on what matters most.
In the second half of 2013, the European Commission launched a series of initiatives to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) perform better. Here is a snapshot of some of the EC’s ambitious new measures.
Education is an essential element of entrepreneurship. Studies show that students who receive entrepreneurship education are not only more likely to be employed, but also more likely to start their own companies. With that in mind, the European Commission has proposed a series of actions that will help expose students to entrepreneurship and, as a result, help create jobs throughout Europe.
The European Commission is dedicated to helping Europe’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) overcome the financing problems currently plaguing Europe. This is the inspiration behind a new programme called COSME (Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs), which will free up funding for SMEs and help small businesses – the backbone of Europe’s economy – create goods, services and jobs. In an interview with E and I Magazine, Vice-President Antonio Tajani explains what the Commission hopes to achieve with COSME.
By offering information on how companies can access more than €100 billion of EU financing, the single portal on EU finance is helping entrepreneurs and SMEs in Europe face some of the major problems hampering their development. The user-friendly portal acts as a gateway to opportunities provided by more than 1 000 EU-supported banks and other financial institutions.
There is a reason COSME (Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs) is designed like its predecessor, the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP). After all, the CIP made €550 million of guarantees available to financial intermediaries, freeing up loans and financing for SMEs throughout the EU. As illustrated by these success stories, the CIP helped European SMEs realise their innovative ideas, and COSME will do the same.
The fashion industry is fuelled by an international supply chain that stretches far beyond the runway or clothing store. Numerous stakeholders must communicate about sales, shipments, supplies and more. To help facilitate this collaboration, the European Commission offers eBIZ, an interface that enables the fashion industry’s 850 000 companies to integrate their operations and create Europe’s world-renowned clothing.
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 one of the world’s fastest-growing markets, Southeast Asia offers a wealth of opportunity for European businesses eyeing foreign markets. But despite the potential for growth, the region also poses numerous challenges, including different attitudes towards intellectual property rights. To help European SMEs navigate these differences, the Commission is excited to launch the ASEAN IPR SME Helpdesk.
Both inside and outside their own borders, European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are particularly vulnerable to late payments – one of the leading causes of bankruptcy among SMEs. The lack of protection for SMEs not only cripples businesses and stalls economic growth, but might also discourage would-be entrepreneurs from taking chances. This is why the European Commission has introduced multiple proposals to give SMEs the help they need to inject more dynamism in Europe’s economy.
Many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are reluctant to operate outside the borders of their own country, as they are afraid of encountering burdensome procedures when trying to claim payments for their products and services. SMEs often find it too daunting, complicated or expensive – because of consulting fees, legal counsel, document translation, etc. – to pursue legal action against companies or individuals in other Member States.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are Europe’s job engine. Today, 85% of net new jobs in the EU’s private sector are created by SMEs. Thus, the EU has developed a number of concrete actions to promote a better economic environment for the 21 million SMEs in the EU, and support their efforts for creating new jobs.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) need to be better integrated into automated electronic data interchange (EDI) to be successful in global markets. EDI allows companies to exchange data between their own ICT systems and the systems of customers and suppliers. In recent years EDI has greatly benefited large companies, whilst SMEs could not fully participate due to the high costs of such systems. Pilot projects supported by the European Commission demonstrate that common ICT systems for the supply chain of the automotive industry (auto-gration) as well as for the transport and logistics sector (DiSCwise) enable SMEs to profit from global digital supply chains.
Did you know that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can easily notify the European Commission if they face problems in relation to EU laws and policies? With the help of the EU's 600 Enterprise Europe Network partners, SMEs can make their situation known. This applies not only during the formation of legislation, but after legislation has been put in place and also on an ongoing basis via the Enterprise Europe Network's standard consultation procedure.
Women's entrepreneurial potential is a very much underexploited source of economic growth and new jobs. The fact that women only account for 34.4% of the self-employed in Europe suggests that they need more encouragement to become entrepreneurs. As a source of inspiration and practical advice for women, the European Commission has set up a European Ambassadors’ Network and a European Mentors’ Network. Now it is up to the women themselves to take up the challenge...
You have a brilliant business idea but you’re not sure how to bring it to life? You are a newly established entrepreneur and need a helping hand? Or perhaps you are already running your own company successfully but would like to expand and would benefit from some fresh ideas? Then you need look no further than the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme, a mobility initiative financed by the European Union.
Thirty-seven examples of European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that have achieved success on the international stage have just been unveiled in a publication as part of the European Commission’s drive to encourage entrepreneurship in Europe. 'The Secret of Success 2012-13' is a flagship publication for the European SME Week, which will be held from 15 to 21 October 2012. One of the aims of this event will be to promote entrepreneurship and inspire more European citizens to consider it as a viable career option.
Daniel Calleja Crespo is the European Commission's SME Envoy, ensuring an active interface with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) promotes actions that address the challenges European industry is facing, with a special focus on the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises. The programme has been successful in meeting its main objectives according to a recent report, which highlights several of its achievements. Building on CIP's results, its funding successor – the new Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs (COSME) - is expected to further strengthen and streamline actions in this field from 2014 onwards.
Expanding beyond EU borders still presents small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with obstacles, but the potential rewards of internationalisation for their growth are significant. The European Commission has therefore put forward a strategy to help European SMEs seize global opportunities by streamlining and strengthening support available for them.
Socially responsible businesses play a crucial role in achieving sustainable economic growth through generating consumer confidence and positively contributing towards society’s well-being. Supporting responsible entrepreneurship is an EU priority, as a recently adopted package of measures demonstrates.
The European Commission is further strengthening the Enterprise Europe Network with new contact points in Asia and Africa. The growing reach of the Network was evident at its annual conference, which welcomed more than 900 participants from 50 countries. The event featured awards to companies which have successfully used the Network to find opportunities abroad or to develop their business and research activities.
The micro-credit sector can play a significant role in improving access to finance and encouraging entrepreneurship. A new flexible and voluntary European Code of Good Conduct for micro-credit provision aims to guide both businesses and financial institutions towards a better working relationship.
While small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are vital to Europe’s economic growth by providing jobs and driving innovation, they require a business-friendly environment to flourish. This year’s European Enterprise Awards recognised the hard work of many public administrations, at the local and regional level, which have provided support to small businesses through effective projects aimed at promoting excellence in entrepreneurship.
The Small Business Act (SBA) was launched in 2008 to ensure that European small and medium-sized enterprises have access to finance and markets and can thrive in a regulatory environment conducive to growth. A recent European Commission review reveals that progress in implementing the SBA’s measures has been made, while indicating further actions needed to respond to the new challenges that have emerged in the meantime.
The Enterprise Europe Network helps European SMEs to find business and technology partners and apply for EU funding. In addition, small businesses operating in 17 key industry sectors from retail to space technology can count on customised support from the Network. In these sectors, specialists from across Europe come together to organise brokerage and matchmaking events, using their expertise to find new markets and opportunities for companies.
The Enterprise Europe Network's third annual conference in Antwerp, Belgium, rewarded four pioneering small businesses that have made outstanding progress in marketing innovative products across borders, thanks to partnerships set up with the Network's support.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) not only make up the vast majority of companies in the European Union, but they are also Europe's main job-creation engine. The annual report on European SMEs reveals that the economic crisis has caused this motor to stall temporarily, despite the fact that the EU and its Member States have improved the policy environment for SMEs.