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Creating an enterprise culture and fostering entrepreneurship in the EU

The European Commission has adopted a communication on "Fostering Entrepreneurship in Europe", in line with the Employment Guidelines adopted at the European Council on Employment (Luxembourg, November 1997). The communication aims to promote the creation of an enterprise cult...
The European Commission has adopted a communication on "Fostering Entrepreneurship in Europe", in line with the Employment Guidelines adopted at the European Council on Employment (Luxembourg, November 1997). The communication aims to promote the creation of an enterprise culture and a strong, stable business environment.

Commissioner Christos Papoutsis, responsible for enterprise policy, presenting the communication on 7 April 1998, emphasized the importance of SMEs for creating employment in Europe. In view of this, he said, "Let us therefore explore every possible way of stimulating an enterprise culture and the creation of businesses that can prosper and create jobs. The fact that 50% of businesses fail within five years shows that new entrepreneurs are not sufficiently prepared and accompanied during their first years in business."

The communication provides a framework for identifying problems affecting enterprises and sets out a strategy in favour of entrepreneurship. It comprises proposals for actions to foster an enterprise culture and to provide appropriate training. The measures set out address the following major tasks:

- Creating an enterprise culture and entrepreneurship training, by developing and improving training courses, promoting coaching and mentoring for infant firms, and involving the media and successful entrepreneurs to give entrepreneurship a more prominent role in society;

- Administrative simplification, to reduce the impact of procedures on new business in particular, by introducing single contacts and forms for registering new businesses, and alleviating constraints of taxation, social or environmental natures;

- Improving the transfer of business from one generation to the next, by adjusting the fiscal environment and introducing practical measures to ensure early preparation and proper management of the transfer process;

- Improving access to finance and in particular to venture capital, by improving and promoting financial instruments such as loan guarantee schemes, private investment schemes or "Business Angels", and venture capital funds;

- Making the fiscal environment more attractive for start-ups and SMEs, by shifting the tax burden away from labour, establishing tax relief for start-ups and improving the tax treatment of re-invested profits.

The communication sets out actions to be taken by all parties with an interest in developing European enterprise: the Commission, Member States, the social partners, and companies themselves.

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