Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Liikanen promises new communication on enterprise policy

The European Commission will present a communication on new enterprise policy by the end of the month, focusing on the challenges of the knowledge driven economy and reflecting the targets established at the European Council summit in Lisbon to promote entrepreneurial activity...
The European Commission will present a communication on new enterprise policy by the end of the month, focusing on the challenges of the knowledge driven economy and reflecting the targets established at the European Council summit in Lisbon to promote entrepreneurial activity.

Enterprise Commissioner Erkki Liikanen said the document will set out the Commission's vision for the establishment of an 'Enterprise Europe' by 2005. He said the encouragement and support of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) would be central to achieving this vision of a healthy enterpreneurial environment.

Speaking at the European Enterprise Policy SME Forum in Lisbon on 13 April, Liikanen said his Enterprise Directorate-General would ensure the needs of SMEs - the engines of job creation - are at the heart of the Commission's decision making process.

'It is essential that we create a business environment that helps small firms, removing the barriers that prevent the creation of businesses at all levels - European, national and regional', he said.

'The backing we have received from the Lisbon Council - at the highest political level - provides us with the framework within which we can work to achieve our vision of an "Enterprise Europe".

'The measures proposed there will set the scene for a revolution in the way Europeans do business. It is now up to all of us to ensure that this opportunity is realised, and is not allowed to slip from our grasp.'

To this end, the Commission will present a new multiannual programme for enterprise and entrepreneurship for 2001 until 2005 that will help support an environment supporting innovation and change.

It will provide a framework of actions operating in up to 31 countries with a specific emphasis on the requirements of SMEs.

The five clearly defined policies of the multiannual programme will be:
- promoting entrepreneurship as a valuable and productive life skill;
- encouraging a regulatory and business environment in which enterprise and entrepreneurship can flourish;
- ensuring business support networks and services to enterprises are provided;
- improving access to finance for SMEs and;
- enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs in a knowledge based economy.

The Enterprise Commissioner also laid out plans to address some of the other commitments made at the 'dotcom' summit in Lisbon.

He spoke of creating a better understanding of entrepreneurship by including it in all school curricula, and making specific enterprise and business-related modules or programmes an essential ingredient of education schemes at secondary or tertiary level.

The need to create a business environment that helps small firms will also be high on the Commission's agenda. Liikanen vowed to reduce the cost of setting up a new business by simplifying company registration procedures and eliminating regulatory burdens, as well as making risk capital more available.

Progress is being made, he said, with the implementation of the Financial Services Action Plan, designed to improve the way financial markets operate. In addition, all financial instruments will be reviewed in favour of enterprises by the end of the year, in accordance with requests made at Lisbon.

Another crucial issue for Europe is to close the skills gap in the information technology sector, said Liikanen.

The Lisbon conclusions also called for a European charter for small companies, which Liikanen said would play a part in the Commission's enterprise policy.

In order to meet these challenges, the Lisbon Council called upon the Commission to develop a benchmarking system for enterprise and innovation policy, the conclusions of which will be presented to the European Council in June.

The exercise will, Liikanen said 'concentrate on practical issues, such as the time and costs involved in setting up a company, access to risk capital for investment, the numbers of business and scientific graduates and training opportunities.'

The result will provide a useful reference guide for European policy makers in establishing the best methods of encouraging enterprise. 'Benchmarking is an invaluable aid to progress in the enterprise field. It enables us to identify our own weaknesses and others' strengths and, sometimes, vice versa. It is about understanding why they do well and trying to do even better.'
Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top