Tag Archives: Entrepreneurship

A renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field

A renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about A renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Education training youth sport > Youth

A renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-18)

Document or Iniciative

Council Resolution of 27 November 2009 on a renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018) [Official Journal C 311 of 19.12.2009].


For Europe to attain the objectives regarding growth and jobs set by the Lisbon strategy, it is imperative that its young men and women are socially as well as professionally well integrated. Such integration also promotes young people’s personal fulfilment, social cohesion and active citizenship. However, young people still face challenges in terms of employment, education and training, poverty, health, and participation and democratic representation. Therefore, a renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field has been designed to provide better opportunities for Europe’s young people.

This renewed framework is based on the Commission’s communication of April 2009 on the new European Union (EU) Youth Strategy. It aims to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of European cooperation by establishing a strategy for the next decade that builds on the progress made and lessons learned under the previous framework.

European cooperation in the youth field during 2010-18

European cooperation in the youth field during 2010-18 is motivated by two interrelated objectives:

  • the creation of more and equal opportunities in education and the labour market;
  • the promotion of active citizenship, social inclusion and solidarity.

To this end, specific initiatives targeting young people and mainstreaming initiatives to incorporate youth issues into other policy areas are developed and promoted. The renewed framework outlines eight fields of action in which cross-sectoral initiatives to support young people should be taken:

  • education and training;
  • employment and entrepreneurship;
  • health and well-being;
  • participation;
  • voluntary activities;
  • social inclusion;
  • youth and the world;
  • creativity and culture.

European cooperation in the youth field must uphold a number of guiding principles, particularly:

  • promote gender equality;
  • combat all forms of discrimination;
  • consider differences between young people, especially in terms of disadvantage;
  • provide for the participation of young people in policy-making.

European cooperation should be evidence-based, relevant and concrete with clear and visible results that are regularly presented, reviewed and disseminated. It should be applied through a renewed framework of open method of coordination. This requires political commitment from EU countries and working methods based on:

  • a series of 3-year work cycles (the first cycle covers the years 2010-12);
  • an overall thematic priority for each trio presidency and specific priorities for each presidency country contributing to the overall thematic priority (the priorities for the period from 2010 to mid-2011 are set out in the annex to the resolution);
  • implementation instruments (knowledge building, mutual learning, progress reporting, dissemination of results, monitoring of the process, dialogue with young people, mobilisation of EU programmes and funds).

Within this renewed framework for European cooperation, the role of youth work must be strengthened. It should be supported and recognised for its social as well as economic contribution. The discussion should focus on the training, recognition of skills and mobility of youth workers and leaders, as well as on the promotion of innovative solutions in youth work.

Role of EU countries and the Commission

EU countries are called upon to work together on the basis of this resolution, with a view to improving European cooperation in the youth field. They should adopt national level measures that contribute to achieving the objectives set for this cooperation.

The Commission is invited to work with EU countries as well as to support their cooperation within the framework. The Commission should monitor the achievement of the objectives, in relation to which it should establish a working group to review data on the situation of young people and evaluate the need to develop new indicators for fields related to youth. The Commission should also propose peer-learning activities and initiate relevant studies.


Established in June 2002, the framework for European cooperation in the youth field provided for the application of the open method of coordination in this context as well as for the mainstreaming of youth issues into other relevant policy areas. The European Youth Pact was adopted in March 2005 to contribute to reaching the objectives of growth and jobs of the Lisbon strategy. The renewed social agenda of July 2008 established children and youth as one of its main priority areas for action.

Key issues for competitiveness in Europe

Key issues for competitiveness in Europe

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Key issues for competitiveness in Europe


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Enterprise > Industry

Key issues for competitiveness in Europe

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 21 November 2003 “Some Key Issues in Europe’s Competitiveness – Towards an Integrated Approach” [COM(2003) 704 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


Competitiveness is determined by productivity growth. Therefore, a competitive economy is one that experiences high and sustained productivity growth.

Many factors have an immediate impact on competitiveness. For instance, the ability to promote research, innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as the ability to encourage investment and the level of competition, or even the ability to reap the benefits of the enlarged internal market, have a direct influence on the development of European competitiveness.

Issues for a more competitive Europe

European industry needs to be competitive if the Community is to achieve its social and environmental goals, which, in turn, ensure that the quality of life of Europe’s citizens improves.

The current state of competitiveness

At present, European productivity growth is slowing down. This slowdown is reflected by a loss of competitiveness, which is a cause for serious concern. It represents a threat to European industrial performance and to the European industry’s ability to carry out structural adjustments.

While there is currently no serious evidence to suggest that Europe is heading for deindustrialisation in the true sense of the word, the process of structural adjustment under way is certainly proving to be difficult.

Signs of weakness are emerging in several key areas in the European Union, particularly research and development, innovation, information and communication technologies (ICT), entrepreneurship and the development of new skills.

To be competitive in a global market that is more and more open to competition, it is vital that the European Union becomes more efficient. In particular, it must therefore encourage investment in research, innovation, ICT, the reorganisation of work and education, all of which are key aspects of the transition process. It is essential that European industry anticipates and better prepares itself for the challenges of adjustment.

How to meet the challenges of competitiveness

The measures taken by the European Union need to be based on an analysis of competitiveness. This analysis consists of two parts: a general economic analysis and a detailed analysis of the competitiveness of the different sectors. This will identify not only the key issues linked to competitiveness, but also the specific problems experienced in certain industrial sectors. This analysis will thus enable the European Union to determine what measures should be taken.

All Community policies must contribute to competitiveness. It is crucial, therefore, that the synergies between certain Community policies (industrial policy, research and development policy, competition policy, internal market strategy, fiscal policy, employment policy, education and training policy, environment policy, transport and energy policy, regional policy) are exploited to obtain the best results in terms of competitiveness, both at European and national level.

The European institutions and the Member States must act as the “guardians of competitiveness”: adopting and implementing the legislation needed for economic growth is their responsibility. In addition, they must carry out impact assessments systematically. In other words, they must take care to take full account of the impact of their political decisions on competitiveness.


This Communication responds to the request made by the 2003 spring European Council concerning the development of a strategy for competitiveness. It also forms part of the wider debate, launched by the Commission’s Communication of 11 December 2002 on the role of industrial policy in improving the competitiveness of industry.

Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme

Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Research and innovation > Research in support of other policies

Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) (2007-2013)

Document or Iniciative

Decision 1639/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 2006 establishing a Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (2007-2013) [See amending act(s)].


The Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) proposes a coherent framework to improve competitiveness * and innovation capacity * in the European Union (EU). The actions it supports encourage the development of a knowledge society and sustainable development based on balanced economic growth.

The framework programme incorporates specific Community support programmes, new actions and synergies with other programmes, thus meeting the objectives of the renewed Lisbon Strategy for simpler, more visible and better targeted Community action.

Specific programmes

To take account of the diversity of its objectives and ensure that these are visible, the CIP is made up of three specific subprogrammes. The interests of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and eco-innovation are cross-cutting priorities reflected throughout the framework programme.

  • The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme brings together activities to promote entrepreneurship, industrial competitiveness and innovation. It specifically targets SMEs *, from hi-tech “gazelles” (companies with high growth potential) to the traditional micro-businesses and family firms which make up a large majority of European enterprises. It facilitates SMEs’ access to finance and investment during their start-up and growth phase. It also gives businesses access to information and advice on the functioning and opportunities of the internal market, as well as to information on Community legislation applying to them and on future legislation so that they can prepare to adapt in a cost-effective way. In this context, the Enterprise Europe Network plays an important role. The programme also makes provision for the exchange of best practices between Member States in order to create a better regulatory and administrative environment for business and innovation. Finally, it backs the promotion of eco-innovation * by encouraging efforts to tap the full potential of environmental technologies.
  • The objective of the ICT Policy Support Programme is to promote the adoption and use of information and communication technologies (ICT), the backbone of the knowledge economy. The uptake of ICTs by both the private and public sectors helps to stimulate European innovation performance and competitiveness. The programme forms part of the Digital Agenda for Europe and incorporates the instruments previously financed by the eTen, eContent and Modinis programmes.
  • The Intelligent Energy – Europe Programme helps speed up efforts to achieve the objectives in the field of sustainable energy. It supports improvements in energy efficiency, the adoption of new and renewable energy sources, greater market penetration for these energy sources, energy and fuel diversification, an increase in the share of renewable energy (the EU has set itself the objective of raising the share of renewable energy in gross domestic consumption to 12 % by 2010) and a reduction in final energy consumption. Particular attention is paid in this context to the transport sector. The programme follows up the Intelligent Energy – Europe (2003-2006) programme, which expired on 31 December 2006.


Implementation of the CIP relies on several instruments (financial instruments, projects, networks, analyses, etc.), which can be applied in each of the specific programmes. This common “toolbox” for the different programmes helps to simplify the way the framework programme works for its users. The CIP is not just based on tried and tested measures, but also introduces new instruments.

Several Community financial instruments are involved in business support. The High Growth and Innovative SME Facility (GIF) promotes the supply of seed and early-stage capital for SMEs for their start-up, and a new feature introduced by the CIP is the provision of “follow-on” capital during their growth phase. The SME Guarantee Facility, for its part, facilitates access for SMEs to financing (loans or leasing), microcredit and equity or quasi-equity. This facility also includes a new securitisation instrument for bank loan portfolios to help mobilise additional loan financing for SMEs.

The CIP strengthens and develops business and innovation support services which disseminate information to businesses on Community policies, legislation and programmes, particularly concerning the internal market and framework research programmes. These services also offer businesses information on innovation, technology and knowledge transfer and provide feedback from them for impact assessments and policy development.

A new mechanism fosters cooperation among national and regional programmes to promote business innovation, thus providing businesses with other ways of benefiting from ideas, know-how and market opportunities in other European regions.

The framework programme also supports pilot market replication projects. These aim to promote the effective marketing and economic exploitation of innovative or eco-innovative technologies and products which have already been technically demonstrated with success but have not yet penetrated the market to a significant extent. These projects are implemented through public-private partnerships.

The Intelligent Energy Executive Agency is responsible for the implementation of action under the “Intelligent Energy – Europe” programme and action under the “Enterprise and Innovation” programme.

In order to optimise the flow of knowledge and ideas, the strategic development of Community policies must continue on the basis of the open method of coordination and be backed up by new twinning actions to help Member States and regions exploit examples of best practice.

Consistency with other Community policies

The CIP links up with other key Community initiatives. Their different activities are implemented in parallel and complement each other. The framework programme is thus involved in achieving Community objectives in the fields of research, cohesion, the environment, education and training.

The CIP thus facilitates access to finance for businesses whose activities relate to innovation, research and development. It also helps businesses get involved in theFramework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7-RTD).


The framework programme will run for seven years, from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2013. It has been allocated a budget of €3.621 billion for that period.

According to an indicative breakdown, 60 % of the overall budget (€2.170 billion) is allocated to the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme. One fifth of this (€430 million) is earmarked for promoting eco-innovation. 20 % of the overall budget (€730 million) has been allocated to the ICT Policy Support Programme, and the last 20 % (€730 million) is for the Intelligent Energy – Europe Programme.

Costs that are eligible under several instruments cannot be funded twice.

Monitoring and assessment

The Commission carries out regular monitoring of the implementation of the framework-programme and the specific programmes which come under it. Each year it drafts a report to provide an update of the activities supported using indicators concerning the financial implementation, the results achieved and, where possible, the impact of the actions implemented.

The framework-programme and the specific programmes which come under it are subject to an intermediary assessment and a final assessment. These assessments examine aspects such as the relevance, the coherence and synergies, effectiveness, the efficient use of resources, and the sustainability, etc. of the actions. Furthermore, the final assessment verifies to what extent the framework-programme as a whole, and each of its specific individual programmes, have achieved their objectives.


The Lisbon Process, whose objective is to make Europe the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, has naturally made competitiveness one of the EU’s key political concerns. In order to ensure greater coherence between the different programmes involved in the Community’s efforts to enhance competitiveness, and in response to the objectives set by the renewed Lisbon Strategy, the European Commission is proposing a framework programme for innovation and competitiveness.

Key terms used in the act
  • Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs): enterprises which employ fewer than 250 persons and which have an annual turnover not exceeding €50 million, and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding €43 million (Recommendation 2003/361/EC).
  • Competitiveness: the capacity of enterprises to adapt quickly to change, exploit their innovation potential and develop high-quality products.
  • Innovation: renewal and extension of the range of products and services, introduction of new design, production, supply and distribution methods, introduction of changes to management methods, work organisation and employees’ terms and conditions of employment and qualifications.
  • Eco-innovation: any form of innovation intended to achieve the objective of sustainable environmentally-friendly development by reducing the impact on the environment or by using natural resources, especially energy, in a more efficient and responsible manner.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 1639/2006/EC


OJ L 310 of 9.11.2006

Amending Act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EU) No. 670/2012


OJ L 204 of 31.7.2012

Successive amendments and corrections to Decision 1639/2006/EC have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated versionis for reference purpose only.

Related Acts

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises (2014 – 2020) [COM(2011) 834 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
Codecision procedure (2011/0394/COD)

Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Evaluations of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme [COM(2013) 2 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Promoting entrepreneurship in schools and universities

Promoting entrepreneurship in schools and universities

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Promoting entrepreneurship in schools and universities


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Education training youth sport > Education and training: general framework

Promoting entrepreneurship in schools and universities

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 13 February 2006 – Implementing the Community Lisbon Programme: Fostering entrepreneurial mindsets through education and learning [COM(2006) 33 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The ability of the European Union (EU) to successfully meet the challenges of competitiveness and growth depends on dynamic entrepreneurship *.

A balance in the number of enterprises has proved to be a crucial factor in the competitiveness and growth of an economy. Business start-ups and transfers, the existence of entrepreneurs willing to embark on innovative ventures and the growth of businesses help to achieve this balance. Research suggests that there is a positive correlation between entrepreneurship and economic growth.

Entrepreneurship: a key competence to be developed from an early age

As attitudes and cultural references take shape at an early age, education can play a major part in successfully addressing the entrepreneurial challenge.

Education should therefore develop awareness of entrepreneurship from an early age. Introducing young people to entrepreneurship develops their initiative and helps them to be more creative and self-confident in whatever they undertake and to act in a socially responsible way.

For this reason the European Commission is devoting special attention to entrepreneurship training from primary school through to university, with a view to encouraging Europe’s young people to become the entrepreneurs of the future.

However, the benefits of entrepreneurship education are not limited to more start-ups. Entrepreneurship is a skill that is also useful in both personal and social aspects of everyday life.


As coherent initiatives in entrepreneurship training are all too rare, the Commission is proposing recommendations based on best practice observed in Europe, with a view to helping Member States develop more systematic strategies to promote entrepreneurship training.

  • A coherent framework: national and regional authorities should establish cooperation between different departments in order to develop a strategy with clear objectives and covering all stages of education. School curricula should also be revised to explicitly include entrepreneurship as an objective of education.
  • Support for schools: schools should be given practical support and incentives to incorporate entrepreneurship in their curricula, through a range of different instruments (distribution of teaching materials, funding of pilot projects, dissemination of best practice, promotion of partnerships with businesses, support for dedicated organisations conducting entrepreneurship programmes with schools, etc.).
  • Fostering entrepreneurship in higher education: entrepreneurship should be incorporated in various subjects, particularly within scientific and technical studies, in order to provide students with specific training on how to start and run a business.
  • Support for teachers: it is essential that teachers be given initial and in-service training as well as practical experience. Awareness should also be raised among heads of schools to ensure that teachers are allowed the time and resources to plan, run and evaluate activities.
  • Participation by external actors and businesses: educational establishments and the local community, especially businesses, should cooperate on the subject of entrepreneurship training, and firms should regard this as a long-term investment and as an aspect of their corporate social responsibility.
  • Practical experience: one of the most effective ways to promote entrepreneurial mindsets and skills is through learning by doing (pupils or students setting up and running mini-companies). Almost 20% of participants in mini-company activities in secondary school go on to create their own company after their studies.


The Education & Training 2010 Work Programme included entrepreneurship as one of eight key competences necessary for lifelong learning in a modern knowledge-based society.

Key terms used in the act

Entrepreneurship: an individual’s ability to turn ideas into action, to be innovative, take the initiative, take risks, plan and manage projects with a view to achieving objectives.

Related Acts

Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 on key competences for lifelong learning– Official Journal L 394 of 30.12.2006.

Decision No 1720/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 November 2006 establishing anaction programme in the field of lifelong learning – Official Journal L 327 of 24.11.2006.

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Action Plan: The European agenda for Entrepreneurship[COM(2004) 70 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication of 10 November 2005 from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Implementing the Community Lisbon programme – Modern SME policy for growth and employment[COM(2005) 551 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


A Small Business Act for European SMEs

A Small Business Act for European SMEs

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about A Small Business Act for European SMEs


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Enterprise > Business environment

A “Small Business Act” for European SMEs

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 25 June 2008 entitled “Think Small First” – A “Small Business Act” for Europe [COM(2008) 394 Final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The initiative called “Small Business Act” (SBA) for Europe aims to create favourable conditions for the growth and sustainable competitiveness of European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Community and national policies should take better account of the role of SMEs in economic growth and job creation.

The SBA is founded on ten principles aimed at framing national and Community policy-making, as well as practical measures for implementing them.

The development of an entrepreneur-friendly environment in order to facilitate the creation of SMEs, by women and immigrants in particular, and to encourage business transfers, specifically of family businesses.

In particular, the Commission shall promote a business culture through networking of enterprises and exchanges of experience. Member States must take measures in the fields of education, training, taxation and support for entrepreneurs.

Support for honest entrepreneurs who wish to start up their business again after bankruptcy.

The Commission encourages the development of a “second chance policy”. This requires Member States to put in place support schemes and to limit the length of liquidation procedures following non-fraudulent bankruptcy.

Designing rules according to the “Think Small First” principle.

Before adopting new rules, the Commission and Member States should evaluate their impact using an “SME test” and carry out consultations with stakeholders. Specific measures should be provided for small and medium-sized enterprises in terms of information and reporting.

Adapting public administrations to the needs of SMEs and eliminating administrative barriers.

Member States should make greater use of simplified procedures, e-government and one-stop-shop systems. They are committed to accelerating procedures for setting up businesses and starting up business operations.

Adapting public policy tools in terms of awarding public procurement contracts and allocating State Aid.

In particular, the Commission shall present a code of best practicefor public procurement contracting authorities and a vade-mecum on State Aid for SMEs. Member States should adopt specific measures for SMEs and better inform them of existing options.

Access to different types of finance, such as risk capital, micro-credit and mezzanine credit.

The Commission must create favourable conditions for investment, particularly at cross-border level. Member States must launch new incentive programmes, whilst also exploiting opportunities offered by Community funds, such as the Competitiveness ad Innovation Framework

Programme 2007-2013 (CIP), cohesion policy programmes and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

Adapting the Single Market Policy to SMEs and improving its governance and visibility.

The Commission must ensure that SMEs benefit from the opportunities offered by the common market, particularly through patent and Community trade mark systems. In addition, Member States must ensure compliance with the mutual recognition principle and the smooth running of the SOLVIT network.

Increasing SMEs potential for innovation, research and development, in particular by ensuring that entrepreneurs and their personnel obtain necessary qualifications, regrouping businesses in clusters and coordinating national initiatives.

The Commission must support the participation of SMEs in Community programmes, such as the Leonardo Da Vinci programme for the mobility of apprentices and the Framework Programme for Research and Development (FP7). The Commission must facilitate access for SMEs to State Aid.

Turning environmental challenges into opportunities, regarding the production and marketing of goods and services

In particular, the Commission must facilitate access to the Community eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS). Member States should encourage SMEs to develop new environmentally-friendly products and services and to adopt new eco-efficient management systems.

Opening SMEs up to external markets.

SMEs must be better supported in order to overcome exchange barriers with third countries and in particular with emerging markets. To this end, the Commission will establish European Business Centres at international level, starting with China and India, and will support the opening up of private and public procurement markets in third countries.

Legislative proposals

The SBA also provides a set of new legislative provisions which respond to the needs of SMEs. These proposals concern the opportunities offered to SMEs in terms of State Aid compatible with the common market, the Statute for a European Private Company (SPE), the reduction of certain VAT rates, the simplification and harmonisation of the rules on invoicing and the reduction of late payments.


The business environment for SMEs has improved, particularly through the establishment of European policy tools, such as the modern policy for SMEs and the European Charter for Small Enterprises. However, an appropriate political response must be provided with regard to new economic developments, in particular in view of the global financial crisis and its impact on the real economy.

The Small Business Act was officially adopted in the conclusions of the Competitiveness Council of 1 and 2 December 2008.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions Review of the “Small Business Act” for Europe [COM(2011) 78 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Overcoming the stigma of business failure

Overcoming the stigma of business failure

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Overcoming the stigma of business failure


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Enterprise > Business environment

Overcoming the stigma of business failure

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 5 October 2007 to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Overcoming the stigma of business failure – for a second chance policy – Implementing the Lisbon Partnership for Growth and Jobs [COM(2007) 584 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


Half of all businesses do not survive the first five years. However, the death of businesses is not incompatible with economic dynamism. Public opinion often associates failure with fraud or personal inability. Yet only 4 to 6 % of bankruptcies are fraudulent. Most of the time, bankruptcy is simply the direct consequence of business renewal.

Business failures have a high cost in terms of employment, purchasing power (unpaid wages) and finance (unpaid debts). This cost could be reduced if businesses in difficulty received better assistance and, in the event of bankruptcy, if it was made easier for them to make a fresh start. Furthermore, entrepreneurs who restart a business learn from their mistakes and subsequently enjoy greater success. For all these reasons, a second chance should be given to failed businesses.

Public image, education and the media

Europeans fear business failure. They need to be shown that new attempts are part of a normal process of learning, research and discovery through, for example, information campaigns and education programmes. The Commission has created awareness-raising tools which can be used for this purpose. The media also have a role to play, particularly when it comes to combating the cliché according to which bankruptcy is a crime, regardless of the cause. Lastly, sustained dialogue with all involved parties should make Europeans aware of the advantages of a fresh start.

The role of insolvency law

Many European bankruptcy laws treat fraudulent and honest business failure in the same manner. Sometimes, they impose restrictions, prohibitions and even disqualifications on bankrupts. Legislation should make a greater distinction between the treatment of fraudulent and non-fraudulent bankruptcies. Furthermore, legal proceedings should be made simpler and faster, lasting no longer than one year. Lastly, legislation should provide for early discharge from remaining debts subject to certain criteria. Overwhelming debts can in fact dissuade an entrepreneur from setting up another business.

Actively supporting businesses in difficulty

Business failure must be prevented by supporting entrepreneurs at as early a stage as possible. The Commission recommends that the Member States introduce support measures such as expert assistance. As businesses in difficulty cannot afford to pay for costly advice, it is essential to make such support more accessible. The Commission has in fact developed an early warning instrument: it has put a self-assessment tool on-line to help entrepreneurs make a rapid estimate of their financial health. In addition to this, the INTERREG IVC programme and European business organisations offer many possibilities for networking and the exchange of good practices in the field of business support.

Lastly, it is also possible to prevent bankruptcies by considering other alternatives: the Commission advises Member States to shift their focus to restructuring and rescuing businesses in difficulty.

Actively supporting restarters

Entrepreneurs who create a second business face psychological, technical and financial difficulties. Training and coaching should therefore be made available to them. It is also necessary to promote the link between these entrepreneurs and their clients, business partners and investors, who are often suspicious of bankrupts.

Furthermore, entrepreneurs who are restarting a business need financial resources. Public bodies should remove barriers to public financing. Banks and financial institutions should be less cautious vis-à-vis restarters, and the names of non-fraudulent bankrupts should not appear on lists restricting access to loans in the banking sector.