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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

Support for policy development - Reference documents

2nd chance entrepreneurs in action



"He who never made a mistake, never made a discovery" - Samuel Smiles


2009-2010 – EU project on Bankruptcy and second chance

2008 – Commission Communication "A Small Business Act for Europe"COM(2008) 394 final

The Small Business Act for Europe recognised the importance of acting to support a second chance in Europe and declared that "Ensure that honest entrepreneurs who have faced bankruptcy quickly get a second chance" was one of the 10 principles (Principle II) required to "improve the legal and administrative environment throughout the EU" within this principle it asked Member States to:

  • promote a positive attitude in society towards giving entrepreneurs a fresh start, for example through public information campaigns
  • aim to complete all legal procedures to wind up the business in the case of non-fraudulent bankruptcy within a year
  • ensure that re-starters are treated on an equal footing with new start-ups, including in support schemes.

2007 – Commission Communication "Overcoming the stigma of business failure – for a second chance policy"COM(2007) 584 final

2006 - EU conference on insolvency and a fresh start

Focusing on preventing bankruptcy, destigmatising business failure and encouraging failed entrepreneurs to start again.

2004 - EU project to develop

  • information kits on business failure
  • early warning tools for owners to assess the health of their business

2003 - Benchmarking project on business failure

An expert group assessed the legal and social consequences of business failure based on the conclusions of the 2001 seminar on business failure and the 2002 study on bankruptcy and a fresh start.

Full report pdf - 722 KB [722 KB] Deutsch (de) español (es) français (fr) italiano (it) (2003)

Summary report pdf - 416 KB [416 KB] dansk (da) Deutsch (de) ελληνικά (el) español (es) français (fr) italiano (it) Nederlands (nl) português (pt) suomi (fi) svenska (sv) (2003)

2002 - Study on bankruptcy and a fresh start

A study of the legal and social consequences of business failure / bankruptcy in the EU and USA, and their effects on entrepreneurship.

The study makes recommendations and proposes a set of indicators to assess legal obstacles to saving a businesses or starting afresh after a bankruptcy.

National reports (EU):

Austria pdf - 144 KB [144 KB] Belgium pdf - 82 KB [82 KB] Denmark pdf - 223 KB [223 KB] Germany pdf - 84 KB [84 KB] Finland pdf - 99 KB [99 KB]
France pdf - 80 KB [80 KB] Greece pdf - 113 KB [113 KB] Ireland pdf - 94 KB [94 KB] Italy pdf - 68 KB [68 KB] Luxembourg pdf - 131 KB [131 KB]
Netherlands pdf - 154 KB [154 KB] Portugal pdf - 99 KB [99 KB] Spain pdf - 145 KB [145 KB] Sweden pdf - 74 KB [74 KB] United Kingdom pdf - 95 KB [95 KB]

2001 brochure - Helping businesses overcome financial difficulties


  • expert recommendations on restructuring, bankruptcy and making a fresh start
  • guidelines for ensuring insolvency and creditors' rights systems work effectively
  • case studies pdf - 2 MB [2 MB] dansk (da) Deutsch (de) ελληνικά (el) español (es) français (fr) italiano (it) Nederlands (nl) português (pt) suomi (fi) svenska (sv) on legal issues and support schemes.

2001 - seminar on business failure

Experts from goverment and business identified issues and shared good practice on regulatory measures, support for companies in distress and starting again after bankruptcy. pdf - 11 KB [11 KB]

(Printed copies in EN available on request)

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