European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for entrepreneurship and industry, said: "Europe lags behind its competitors in entrepreneurial attitudes. Yet at the same time we know that SMEs are the biggest source of new jobs and related growth. Therefore, it is crucial that Europe increases its appetite for entrepreneurship and then supports its would-be and new entrepreneurs in creating new businesses. A European Entrepreneurship Action Plan is needed to unleash entrepreneurial potential. Please let us know your ideas - we count on them."
In these difficult times of increasing unemployment, Europe needs more entrepreneurs. Whilst actually only 11% of European citizens are entrepreneurs, 45% would like to be their own boss if they could.
To unlock this enormous potential for jobs and growth, the European Commission intends to launch in autumn 2012 a European Entrepreneurship Action Plan to boost entrepreneurship at all levels. To this end, the Commission has launched a public consultation with the aim to gather inputs from stakeholders and citizens on the scope of possible future actions at EU, national and regional level in promoting entrepreneurship.
New companies represent the most important source of new jobs: they create 4.1 million new jobs every year in Europe. Without the jobs created by new firms, the average net employment growth rate would be negative. Moreover there is a need to preventing companies from disappear as a result of lack of support during turbulent times, and instead rather to help them to keep growing and developing their business. This consultation, which runs until 01.10.2012, seeks to identify measures that would have a significant impact on achieving the goals of such an Action Plan to boost entrepreneurship.
Promoting entrepreneurship at all levels
Europe lags behind the United States in terms of entrepreneurship: in Europe 45% of citizens prefer to be self-employed, while in the USA this proportion is 55%. This lack of entrepreneurial drive is not due to Europeans' overall dislike of entrepreneurship but rather the result of concrete structural, administrative and cultural factors that need to be tackled.
To overcome the current situation, the Commission is in particular interested in receiving ideas on how to:
Unleash entrepreneurial potential
remove obstacles to entrepreneurial activities
support entrepreneurs in starting up businesses
help entrepreneurs to face challenges, particularly during the first years of life of the business.
All citizens and organisations are welcome to contribute to this consultation. Contributions are particularly sought from public administrations and private sector organizations and individuals who support entrepreneurs in starting up businesses.
More specifically the Commission is interested to hear the views of citizens on the following topics:
Promoting the spirit of entrepreneurship in schools and universities
Education for entrepreneurship can make a difference, as young people who go through entrepreneurial programmes and activities start more companies and earlier – the percentage of alumni who become entrepreneurs 3 to 5 years after leaving school is 3-5%, whereas for those who participated in any entrepreneurship education this percentage rises to 15-20%. What can be done at EU, national, and regional levels to promote entrepreneurship education?
Women, Seniors – untapped pools of entrepreneurial potential
Women entrepreneurs constitute only 34.4% of the self-employed in the EU but 52% of the total European population. Women represent the most underused source of entrepreneurial potential in Europe. Seniors can often bring valuable know-how and experience to the table that could make them excellent mentors for those who are less experienced founders. What can the Commission do to promote women's entrepreneurship and better tap the business experience of seniors?
Migrants, minorities or other specific groups of potential entrepreneurs
It is important that policies to encourage entrepreneurship in Europe take full account of the entrepreneurship potential represented by migrants and members of ethnic minorities. How can entrepreneurship among migrant and ethnic minority workers best be promoted?
Other issues covered by the consultation include framework conditions for business, facilitating transfers of business, efficient bankruptcy procedures/second chances for honest bankruptcies, supporting new entrepreneurs and improving access to finance.