Brussels, 19 Jan 2005
The EU has announced plans to encourage workers to create their own businesses in a bid to reach its goal of becoming the world's most competitive economy by 2010.
Following the publication of a Eurobarometer survey highlighting Europe's lack of entrepreneurship, a package of measures will be proposed on 2 February to kick-start EU competitiveness.
'Entrepreneurs are the economic DNA which we need to build competitiveness and innovation in Europe,' says Enterprise and Industry Commissioner Günter Verheugen. 'Entrepreneurship can be exciting and rewarding, but it also involves risks and hard work. It is the challenge for Member States and the Commission to ensure that entrepreneurship is encouraged by providing a supportive environment for those choosing to take the risks. Therefore, boosting entrepreneurship will be a core element in our forthcoming initiatives to improve the competitiveness of the European economy,' he added.
The new measures are aimed at promoting entrepreneurship among young people, reducing stigma from failure, and simplifying compliance with tax laws. Taxation policies that undermine initiatives and burdensome red tape will also be investigated.
In a transatlantic comparison, the Eurobarometer survey 'Becoming your own boss in the EU - Why are there so few Bill Gates and Richard Bransons in the EU?' found that only 45 per cent of EU citizens want to be their own boss, compared with 61 per cent in the US.
According to the study, Europeans appreciate a regular income and job security and are frightened by the risk of failure. This fear of failure has increased most markedly in Denmark, Germany and the UK, and concerns 50 per cent of Europeans across the continent. The fear of too much red tape as an entrepreneur was also cited by 69 per cent of those questioned. In the US on the other hand, workers are much more eager to take a shot at entrepreneurship with only one third concerned with failing.
However, figures vary widely across the EU with the new Member States more inclined towards giving entrepreneurship a go.
In the US, 'there is a completely different attitude toward risk,' said Heinz Zourek, EU Deputy Director-General for Enterprise and Industry. In the EU, 'once you try a venture and you don't succeed, you don't get a second chance but you get a stigma,' added Mr Zourek. 'Therefore, people are extremely reluctant and prudent because if they cannot be 200 per cent sure, the punishment is so severe that they don't want to expose themselves or their family.'
Furthermore, finding venture capital is more difficult in the EU than in the US. 'The Commission is trying to support measures for equity and credit financing via the European Investment Fund,' said Mr Zourek.
For more information on the entrepreneurship Eurobarometer, please visit:
http:///europa.eu.int/comm/enterprise/ent erprise_policy/survey/eurobarometer83.ht m