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Commission sets out EU enterprise policy

Europe needs to be more entrepreneurial and innovative if it is to face the challenges of the knowledge-driven economy, says the Commission, in a statement setting out its policy for achieving these aims.

In the communication 'Challenges for enterprise policy in the knowledge...
Europe needs to be more entrepreneurial and innovative if it is to face the challenges of the knowledge-driven economy, says the Commission, in a statement setting out its policy for achieving these aims.

In the communication 'Challenges for enterprise policy in the knowledge-driven economy', the Commission has laid out an enterprise policy that addresses the challenges set at the recent 'dotcom' Council summit in Lisbon.

The document calls for an enterprise culture that rewards risk taking, and a business environment supported by risk-capital and an effective innovation and research policy. The communication therefore provides that all Community legislation should incorporate a proper business impact assessment at the highest political level before being adopted.

One deterrent for potential entrepreneurs can be bankruptcy legislation, through the high costs it imposes on failure. The European Commissioner for Enterprise and the Information Society Erkki Liikanen has now called for a review of bankruptcy legislation in Member States.

'Entrepreneurship is the key to the new economy,' he says. 'Those who take risks must be rewarded and those who fail must be given a second chance - this is an important part of the learning curve.'

Reducing the bureaucratic costs of setting up a business is also high on Liikanen's agenda. 'Unnecessary costs put in the way of enterprise, whether by barriers in the internal market, or by red tape, must be swept away,' he said.

To meet the Lisbon conclusions, and to ensure Member States can learn from each other's best practices, the Commission will embark on a benchmarking exercise in June, the results of which will be presented to the Industry Council in December.

A new multi-annual programme on enterprise and entrepreneurship adopted for the period 2001 to 2005 supports the enterprise policy objectives set out in the communication.

Targeted at the needs of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), it provides financial support for policy development through the 'BEST' procedure. The programme includes important instruments for ensuring a better financial environment for SMEs, in the form of loan guarantees and support for the provision of risk capital.

Over five years, 230 million euro will be provided for the support of SME development in over 30 countries including the European Economic Area and the candidate countries.
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