Start-up procedures: progress in 2006
Addressing the difficulties and delays experienced in setting up a new enterprise has been a policy priority for the European Commission for a number of years. In 1997, the European Commission published a recommendation in this area and also commissioned a study . The Lisbon European Council called for benchmarking of the time and cost of setting up a company, as one of the areas where the new open method of co-ordination could be applied. The results of this benchmarking exercise were presented in January 2002.
The European Charter for Small Enterprises has "Cheaper and faster start-up" as one of its ten action lines. The annual Charter implementation reports have shown that, since the publication of the benchmarking report in January 2002, several Member States have succeeded in further reducing the time and costs of setting up a business, some even providing operational online registration systems.
Most recently, the conclusions of the 2006 Spring European Council (point 30), state that:
"The Member States should establish, by 2007, a one-stop-shop, or arrangements with equivalent effect, for setting up a company in a quick and simple way. Member States should take adequate measures to considerably reduce the average time for setting up a business, especially an SME, with the objective of being able to do this within one week anywhere in the EU by the end of 2007. Start-up fees should be as low as possible and the recruitment of a first employee should not involve more than one public administration point."
Following up on the Spring Summit conclusions and in order to support this process, the Commission decided to launch two actions:
- To organise a workshop in late 2006 to identify the key issues for start-up procedures. This workshop was part of a series of initiatives to support Member States in their efforts to reach the above objective. The workshop was also intended to give business organisations the opportunity to make their concerns known.
- To create a network of National Start-up Co-ordinators (NSUC) to serve as the main liaison between the Member State and the European Commission for the follow up of the 2006 Spring Council conclusion on cheaper and faster start-ups. Each NSUC was officially appointed by his/her national government and were invited to participate in the Workshop.
List of the National Government appointed National Start-up Co-ordinators [43 KB]
Workshop on business start-up procedures, Brussels, 13 November 2006
The workshop on start-up procedures took place in Brussels, on the 13th of November 2006. The main goal was to identify the latest developments at Member State level and the current key issues in terms of time and costs required to start up a business. Both Member States and business organisations were invited.
Workshop was opened by the Deputy SME Envoy and consisted of 8 presentations by representatives of Member States, business and financial organisations and entrepreneurs on the programmes and issues in 8 different Member States (AT, BE, DA, DE, ES, FR, IT, UK) plus 2 presentations from DG Enterprise and Industry. The first on start-up measures reported in the Lisbon National Progress Reports and the second on the results of the questionnaire (key issues and latest developments in the area of start-ups) that had been previously sent to all potential participants.
The total number of participants was 62.
- Workshop Programme [207 KB]
- Measures to improve start-up procedures in the Lisbon National Reform Programmes [15 KB] , Ms. Kirsi Ekroth-Manssila, Deputy Head of Unit, Enterprise and Industry Directorate-General
- New Enterprise, Ltd. [300 KB] , presentation by Mr. Antonio Fenandez Ecker, Directorate General for SME policy (Spain)
- The German experience with the Startothek [572 KB] , presentation by Ms. Isabelle Canu, KfW Bankengruppe
- Presentation of the French System [52 KB] , presentation by Ms. Sandrine Wehrli, Assembly of the French Chambers of Commerce and Industry
- Problems faced by entrepreneurs in relation to start-up procedures [64 KB] , presentation by Mr. Pietro Martani, RentXpress (Italy)
- The Austrian Start-up service, presentation by Mr. Christian Wodon, Vienna Chamber of Commerce
- Starting a business - the UK experience [194 KB] , presentation by Mr. Paul Hadley, Small Business Service and Mr. Paul Harrod, Small Business Council
- How to create a company in Belgium [625 KB] , presentation by Mr. Vicent Baltus, Enterprise Counter of the Belgian Chambers of Commerce and Industry
- Starting a business in Denmark [328 KB] , presentation by Mr. Torsten Grunwald, Danish Commerce and Companies Agency
Workshop outcome and next steps
Many good initiatives were presented but also some issues were raised, in particular which procedural steps should be included when measuring the time to start-up a company. Presently there is not a very clear indication, which will complicate the verification of whether the objectives are achieved by the end of 2007.
It was suggested that the Commission comes forth with a clearer definition of the procedures required to fulfil the Spring Council conclusion of "being able to do this within one week anywhere in the EU by the end of 2007". A proposal was made to create a "basket" of companies that may act as benchmarks for all Member States.
Despite that, it was agreed that lack of a common yardstick should not be a deterrent for further progress in the area of reducing time and cost to set up a business.
One-stop-shops have been set up or are being implemented in most countries. However, in some cases, they are rather limited in scope. In other cases they just mask complicated procedures which delay genuine simplification of the procedures. It also appears that there is not a very clear understanding on the functions that a one-stop-shop should cover.
Start-ups will be the focus of a workshop in the 2007 Charter Conference (Berlin, 4th and 5th June 2007). The report of this workshop will serve as a relevant input for the Charter Conference.