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News - 3 June 2006
Tina Sommer

EU needs to support entrepreneurs says FSB

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has published a blueprint for action for small firms in the European Union (EU) with imaginative solutions to the EU's economic problems.

"What can Small Businesses do for Europe?" The web site was launched as the FSB formally opened its new Brussels offices with a call to politicians to stop dithering and act to support entrepreneurs.

The FSB believes that the entrepreneurial spirit in the EU is being lost and that action is needed now to prevent a downward economic spiral across Europe. There are 23 million small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe. They employ 75 million people, accounting for over 99% of all enterprises. If this sector were to falter, the whole EU economy would suffer.

At present there are 19 million people in Europe who are unemployed and small firms are a key to creating jobs for the future. For example, if 50% of small firms in the EU employed one more person, 10 million new jobs would be created. However, businesses that are already delivering results and testing the limits of what is possible are being held back from doing so much more.

To achieve this job creating potential, the FSB believes that the EU must foster a climate where entrepreneurs can flourish. To assist in reaching this goal the FSB has published its blueprint document with a road map to success for the EU institutions, with case studies, to illustrate how progress can be made.

Tina Sommer, FSB EU and International Affairs Chairman, said, "Entrepreneurs are pro-active problem solvers. We hear far too much in the EU about problems. The FSB is not prepared to sit back and wait for politicians to get their act together. We are proposing solutions now. EU politicians would do well for their constituents by taking these suggestions on board.

"By listening to the view from thriving businesses it should be possible for a modern Europe to remove barriers to growth from the path of small firms, creating new jobs and economic growth across the EU.

"We have brought our message to Brussels with this blueprint for success and we will keep up the pressure from our new EU offices at the heart of European decision making.

"With our suggestions for positive action now in the hands of EU politicians and officials the time for action is here. EU decision makers must start acting upon our proposals for the benefit of the businesses and people of Europe."

The FSB is calling for action in the following areas:

  • Employment - 19 million people in the EU are unemployed. The European economy is teeming with 'micro' businesses that want to grow. For the EU economy to succeed the barriers preventing these two groups meeting, such as red tape and skills shortages, have to be lifted.
  • Thriving communities - a thriving community is inconceivable without local small businesses. They provide jobs and services as well as social networks and they are already using innovative methods to adapt to globalisation and benefit from it. But while politicians dither and fail to lead on this issue small firms are unable to wait. They need more help to trade online and more funds diverted from propping up outdated rural practices to generating jobs for tomorrow's rural economy.
  • Innovation - the EU has yet to harness the potential benefits from the 21st century economy. Half of all new jobs in the EU are created by less than 5% of high-tech SMEs. EU policies and funding streams have neglected the vast majority of businesses that engage in innovation. This needs to change.
  • Environmental sustainability - small firms can move quickly and alter their behaviour to address climate change much more speedily than legislation can achieve. Instead of over-regulation we should harness the ability to change quickly. Firms may need to be greener but environmentalists need to embrace the market to achieve change. With the right support and encouragement small firms could achieve much more.
  • Restore trust in EU decision making - today's EU is characterised by a distrustful relationship between administrators and the public. Nowhere is this more keenly felt than by small firms. Perfectly law-abiding firms are being criminalised by the state and its regulatory framework. Legislation does not differentiate between honest mistakes and criminal behaviour. If there is not trust from the politicians how can they expect small firms to trust them? The time spent on dealing with regulation has increased in recent times, despite claims of a better regulation agenda. The smallest businesses now spend an average of 8.9 hours per employee dealing with paperwork. Small firms can create more jobs and drive forward a knowledge-based economy but only if they have time and freedom to do so. Over-regulation robs them of both.

Click on the link below for the full document; -

Read related items on:
European Union
Federation of Small Businesses
Sommer, Tina

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