MEPs call for entrepreneurship action plan by end of year
The European Parliament adopted an own-initiative report by German MEP Werner Langen on entrepreneurship in Europe on 23 October. The resolution calls on the Commission to produce, by the end of the year, an action plan on entrepreneurship, taking into account the proposals aired during the public debate on the green paper. Launched in January, the Green Paper on Entrepreneurship analyses how Member States, candidate countries and the Commission are implementing the principles embodied in the EU Charter for Small Enterprises. It also outlines the steps necessary for creating a favourable environment for starting up and developing companies. These include a coordinated approach to entrepreneurship policy based on learning from the best, as well as three pillars for action, addressing the barriers to business development and promoting a society that values entrepreneurship. The report describes the green paper as a 'successful starting point' for debating entrepreneurship policies at EU and national level, noting that it also forms an important part of Europe's goal of becoming the world's most competitive knowledge based economy by 2010. It also applauds the Commission for the length and thoroughness of its public consultation during and after the drafting of the green paper, and highlights the constructive response received from a wide variety of stakeholders, both quantitatively and qualitatively; However, taking into account the recommendations of the Charter for Small Enterprises, MEPs judged that the green paper only partly incorporates these advances. Furthermore, they regretted the fact that the paper deals almost exclusively with start-ups and high growth enterprises, to the detriment of enterprises in traditional sectors of activity, and cottage industries and family enterprises. Very small businesses and the craft trades account for more than 90 per cent of European undertakings, and are a source of both jobs and innovation. They therefore, the report claims, make an active contribution to meeting the Lisbon objectives. 'Entrepreneurs of this kind deserve special attention from the Commission, given their importance to the stability of the socio-economic fabric and employment and the considerable risks they are obliged to take to set up and remain in business,' it adds. In light of this, MEPs called on the Commission to remember to 'think small first' and to take due account of the ten lines of action set out in the European Charter for Small Enterprises when drafting its action plan. Furthermore, MEPs encouraged the Commission to maintain an open and consultative approach during the drafting of the action plan in order to benefit from the valuable input of the small to medium enterprises (SME) and other stakeholders. Other considerations highlighted by the report include, in the short term, ensuring the budget implementation rate for the Lisbon objectives - particularly measures for small business - remains high. In the long term, measures to promote entrepreneurship and support for SMEs should figure prominently in discussions on the next EU financial framework, the report concludes.