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Promoting entrepreneurship

Europe’s economic growth and jobs depend on its ability to support the growth of enterprises. Entrepreneurship creates new companies, opens up new markets, and nurtures new skills. The most important sources of employment in the EU are Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). The Commission’s objective is to encourage people to become entrepreneurs and also make it easier for them to set up and grow their businesses.

What is entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is an individual’s ability to turn ideas into action. It includes creativity, innovation, risk taking, ability to plan and manage projects in order to achieve objectives.

Challenges faced by entrepreneurs in Europe

Only 37% of Europeans would like to be self-employed, compared to 51% of people in the US and China.  Some of the challenges to be tackled include:

  • education should offer the right foundation for an entrepreneurial career;
  • difficult access to finance and markets;
  • difficulty in transferring businesses;
  • the fear of ‘punitive’ sanctions in case of failure;
  • burdensome administrative procedures.

European Commission’s actions:

The European Commission’s initiatives promoting entrepreneurship are summarised in an Entrepreneurship Action Plan adopted in January 2013. They aim to reignite Europe’s entrepreneurial spirit by:

  • educating young people about entrepreneurship;
  • highlighting opportunities for women and other groups;
  • easing administrative requirements;
  • making it easier to attract investors.

Who we work for

The Commission aims to encourage more people to set up their own business. Certain groups, such as female entrepreneurs, family businesses, liberal professions, migrants, seniors or social economy enterprises are particularly targeted. 

Support we provide

To encourage more people to become entrepreneurs and provide support to existing ones, the Commission supports entrepreneurship education, co-funds the exchange programme Erasmus for young entrepreneurs and manages support networks. More on support we provide.

Advice and opportunities

Entrepreneurs and SMEs can find information on start-up procedures, transfer of business and bankruptcy and second chance in the advice and opportunities section.