Members of the European Parliament meeting in Strasbourg have approved a European Commission Communication on promoting inventions. Within the framework of the Community strategy to promote entrepreneurship in Europe, the Communication presented the Commission's response to the recommendations of the BEST task force report with regard to reducing administrative constraints on European business. The Commission had established the BEST task force - a group of entrepreneurs, public administrators and academic experts - to consider "the existing and new legal and administrative regulations in order to improve the quality of Community legislation and reduce its administrative burden on European business, particularly SMEs". BEST presented a report in June 1998 to the Cardiff European Council, with a number of detailed recommendations addressed to both the Commission and the Member States with a view to improving and simplifying the business environment. In light of this report, the Cardiff Council invited the Commission to draw up a timetable for action and to assess the extent to which current policies encourage entrepreneurship. The Communication that the MEPs approved was the Commission's response to the BEST task force's recommendations and proposes a plan for Commission initiatives and for action by the Member State. The Communication and Action Plan also draw together measures from these other policy initiatives into one comprehensive framework with the overall objective of promoting entrepreneurship as a means of improving competitiveness, increasing growth and job creation. The action plan contains the following main elements: - Encourage the promotion of entrepreneurship through education; - Develop training in direct cooperation with business and social partners; - Facilitate access to finance for smaller enterprises and at an earlier stage; - Facilitate access to finance for expanding firms; - Gear taxation in favour of the development of SMEs (encourage equity financing over debt financing); - Persuade investors to put their money into high-tech companies and facilitate the recycling of venture capital to new SMEs; - Improve access to research and innovation; - Better target the Community's Fifth Framework Programme for Research, Technological development and Demonstration (RTD) to help SMEs; - Better use of patents by SMEs; - Improve visibility of support services to business; - Facilitate the creation of enterprises and improve public administration; - Improve and simplify regulations relating to the organisation of work and maximise employment flexibility where this is possible. All of these actions will be implemented by means of specific actions at both a national and Community level. The budgetary implications, at a Commission level, are set out in the Communication's financial statement. The Action Plan contained in the Communication contains a timetable of actions to be achieved between now and the year 2000. It was proposed that the Commission, in consultation with the Member States, would assess the progress made in the implementation of this Action Plan by means of annual reports submitted to the Council and the European Parliament.