The European Commission has published an action plan designed to support entrepreneurs across the EU and support small business growth.
Described as "a blueprint for decisive action", the Commission hopes the document will "unleash Europe's entrepreneurial potential" by removing existing obstacles to development.
"Investments in changing the public perception of entrepreneurs, in entrepreneurship education and to support groups that are underrepresented among entrepreneurs are indispensable if we want to create enduring change," the EU body stated.
"Only if a large number of Europeans recognise an entrepreneurial career as a rewarding and attractive option will entrepreneurial activity in Europe thrive in the long term."
Changing attitudes towards entrepreneurialism
The action plan calls on nation states to modernise labour markets, deliver business learning and training opportunities and change attitudes towards entrepreneurialism.
Luc Hendrickx, enterprise policy director at UEAPME, the European craft organisation, said the action plan "has the potential to put entrepreneurship back at the top of the agenda and must be implemented as soon as possible".
"Faced with the crisis, policymakers have realised the importance of a thriving private sector and of removing unnecessary burdens," he stated.
Mr Hendrickx claimed Europe will not recover without more small business founders, noting that the call for a 'cultural change' towards entrepreneurship is "timely and appropriate".
"Too often entrepreneurs are still perceived as greedy free riders who are responsible for all the world's problems," he stated.
"This must change. The efforts of entrepreneurs must be recognised and rewarded, and this is true both for policymakers at all levels and for society at large."
Publication of the report has also been welcomed by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), which claimed the document contains many constructive proposals.
However, it said the challenges will lie in their implementation and the resources allocated by member states, as well as a mobilisation of all stakeholders "to win the bet of cultural change".
Rosana Mirkovic, head of small enterprise policy at ACCA, said that in this globalised world, where adaptation and creativity are vital to the survival of businesses, the organisation "fully supports" the Commission’s call.
"We acknowledge however that this will require a real cultural change in the mentality of EU decision-makers and citizens, accompanied by solid concrete bold measures," she stated.
"It is surprising to see that whilst only 11 per cent of European citizens are entrepreneurs, 45 per cent aspire to be their own boss. The EU lags behind its competitors in entrepreneurial attitudes."
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