Europeans fight shy of ‘risky business’

More Europeans prefer employee status to being
self-employed. Steady income, stability of employment and
“being safe” even in unfavourable economic climate
are cited as the main reasons for not becoming one’s own boss.

Boosting entrepreneurship was one of the primary goals
set by the Lisbon European Council in 2000. “Entrepreneurs are
the economic DNA which we need to build competitiveness and
innovation in Europe,” says Commissioner Verheugen.

Despite the EU’s efforts and an  action plan, the latest Eurobarometer on entrepreneurship,
revealed on 17 January 2005, shows that the ‘entrepreneurial
gap’ between Europe and the US is widening. The survey shows
a two points increase (now 51 per cent) in Europeans’
preference for the employee status while in the US the
attraction has diminished by three points (to 34 per
cent). However, the preferences strongly diverge between the
EU member states and according to the socio-demographic
characteristics of citizens. The European average thus
masks marked differences (e.g. 68 per cent of Finns
prefer to be employed against only 32 per cent of Portuguese).

Both sides of the Atlantic agree that the most important factor
for successful business is good management. However, Americans
opting for self-employment (61 per cent) cite “good ideas and
good leadership” as the next most important factor, whereas
Europeans (45 per cent) attach more importance to influence of
“external factors” such as the overall economic and political
context. 

Europeans cite “independence, self-fulfilment and the
interest of the tasks accomplished” (77%) as their main motivation
for starting their own business. American entrepreneurs’ main
motivation is the “possibility of creating one’s own working
environment” (61%). The survey shows that one third of Europeans
“would consider” starting their own business in the next five
years (40 per cent in the new member states) against 46 per cent in
the US. 

In early February, the Commission will publish an annual report
on the implementation of the   European Charter for Small Enterprises. This
year’s report will focus on national measures in education for
entrepreneurship, better regulation and skills
shortages. 

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