13th Aug 2020

EU lags behind US in entrepreneurial culture

The EU continues to lag behind the US when it comes to entrepreneurship, a poll published on Monday (17 January) by the European Commission shows.

The survey – conducted on both sides of the Atlantic – shows that nearly twice as many Americans are thinking of setting up their own business (28 percent) than their European counterparts (15 percent).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Moreover, the gap appears to be widening. The number of people thinking about starting their own firm increased by eight percent since 2003 in the US, but only by two percent in the EU.

Job security please

Europeans also seem to feel more at home working within a company than Americans, who would rather be self-employed.

Nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of American respondents to the poll said they would prefer to be self-employed, compared to only 45 percent of Europeans, who cited job security and a fixed regular income as reasons to be employed by a company rather than being their own boss.

However, there appeared to be a "North/South" divide within the EU in this respect. Portugal and Spain had high percentages of people (62 percent and 56 percent respectively) wanting to be self-employed, whereas Finns (28 percent), Dutch (33 percent) and Swedes (35 percent) prefer to be employed by companies.

Lack of finance

The main reason cited by the Commission for the lack of entrepreneurial spirit in the EU is that people find it difficult to find sufficient funding to set up a business – either from banks or venture capital firms.

Nearly three-quarters of people said that "it is difficult to start one’s own business due to a lack of available financial support".

Javier Echarri, Secretary-General of the European Venture Capital Association, which aims to promote an entrepreneurial spirit in the EU, said, "If the EU is serious about encouraging more Bill Gates and Richard Bransons in the EU, then it must look to ease access to finance for entrepreneurs as well as improve the entrepreneurial environment in Europe".

Europeans also said that a fear of failure was another reason not to set up a business.

'Bored' of Lisbon

Encouraging entrepreneurship is a key plank of the EU’s so-called Lisbon Strategy – its aim to be the most dynamic, knowledge-based economy in the World by 2010.

But in this, as with many aspects of the Lisbon Strategy, the EU appears to be going backwards rather than forwards.

Asked by journalists if the Commission was disappointed by this fact, the Deputy Director-General for Enterprise, Heinz Zourek, said, "we are not disappointed, but we are worried".

Top EU officials urge MEPs give quick budget-deal approval

MEPs criticised the EU deal on the budget and recovery package clinched by leaders after five days of gruelling talks, saying it is not enough "future-oriented", and cuts too deeply into EU policies, including health, innovation, defence and humanitarian aid

EU Parliament gears up for fight on budget deal

European parliament president David Sassoli said certain corrections will have to be made in the budget, citing research and the Erasmus program for students, calling the cuts "unjustified".

EU leaders agree corona recovery after epic summit

After gruelling five-day talks, EU leaders agreed on €390bn in grants and €360bn in low-interest loans to hardest-hit member states - after much opposition from the Dutch-led 'frugal' bloc of countries.

EU summit enters fourth day with recovery deadlocked

After bilateral negotiations continued all Sunday night, mostly to try to convince the 'Frugal Four' to move their red lines, European Council president Charles Michel is expected to table a new proposal on Monday afternoon with €390bn in grants.

EU leaders face off over corona bailout summit

EU leaders will face difficult and fundamental issues on Friday-Saturday (17-18 July), when they attempt to agree on the planned seven-year €1.07 trillion budget and €750bn recovery package.

EU forecasts deeper recession, amid recovery funds row

The economies of France, Italy and Spain will contract more then 10-percent this year, according to the latest forecast by the EU executive, as it urges member state governments to strike a deal on the budget and recovery package.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us