European regions and cities ask the European Commission to ensure the different EU funding programmes fully complement each other in order to promote entrepreneurial spirit and to ensure investment in education. Local and regional authorities also call for simplified access to finances and the setting up of a new category of mid-sized enterprises with specific funding options.
Several EU territories are currently undergoing a deindustrialisation process that is having significant consequences on the economic growth, employment rate and welfare of the citizens. Europe needs to therefore promote new ways of production, and to enforce and valorise its technological, economic and social capacities. This challenge should mainly be faced by promoting entrepreneurial spirit among all the society, with particular attention to the development of new skills among existing and future Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). To this purpose the European Commission (EC) launched on 9 January 2013 the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan, including a variety of possible measures to tackle Europe's lack of entrepreneurial drive, for example the simplification of the framework conditions for business, facilitating transfers of business, efficient bankruptcy procedures, supporting new entrepreneurs and improving access to finance.
EU Regions and cities - as key players for a successful implementation of the plan - have assessed the implications of the EC's strategy and elaborated their recommendations in the opinion drafted by Paweł Adamowicz (EPP/PL), scheduled for adoption at the 7-9 October Plenary Session. First, the CoR welcomes the EC's communication, but regrets that the role of regions and cities has not been given enough recognition in the Action Plan. Local and regional authorities can provide a crucial contribution to promoting entrepreneurship among young people by mobilising the educational sector and supporting the modelling of new school educational programmes. The CoR calls, in this perspective, on the European Commission to ask the Member States to promote and support the entrepreneurial spirit across all levels of education.
As regards the action plan's financing, resources will mainly come from the EU's COSME 2014-2020 programme. However, the CoR opinion calls upon the EC to ensure full complementarity between all the different funding programmes, especially between COSME, Structural funds and Horizon 2020. Local and regional authorities also demand the EC to take the CoR on board for future COSME management meetings. To increase the impact of EU actions in this field, the CoR proposes to create a new category of medium-sized enterprises between the SMEs and the larger ones, which could be addressed with targeted support and aid.
CoR rapporteur Paweł Adamowicz believes that "Europe has to build on its entrepreneurial spirit and attitudes. To remain competitive, we need to present entrepreneurship as a viable and promising future career path for our young people. Local and regional authorities should be encouraged to encompass these values in the school curricula from the very beginning. Following the recent economic downturn, we also need to see direct regional support measures for SMEs, which are often embedded in and operate within regional and local markets."
Thinking of networking and the sharing of best practices - key driver of entrepreneurship spirit - the CoR stresses the positive impact of the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) Label, launched in 2010 to award and assess over the years the best regional strategies in this field, supporting the active sharing of knowledge and solutions among regions. The opinion calls on the EC to contribute to further develop the "EER network".
The CoR opinion also considers essential the exchange of experiences between old and new entrepreneurs and highlights the importance of promoting programmes such as the Erasmus for Young entrepreneurs at local and regional levels.