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The Wall Street Journal

EurActiv CEO and Publisher to Jose Manuel Barroso: "Mr. Barroso, Take Down Small Business Walls"

de The Department
Vineri, 11 septembrie 2009, 14:07 English | Regional Europe

Christophe Leclerq
The opinion article "Mr. Barroso, Take Down Small Business Walls" published on September 10 is signed by Christophe Leclerq, EurActiv publisher and founder, and by Rick Zednik, CEO.

Like school children across the continent, Jose Manuel Barroso last week delivered his summer homework for evaluation. But for the European Commission President to clinch a passing grade from the European Parliament and ensure his next term, he should do more for the parents of roughly three-quarters of those school children. Specifically, he must demonstrate a stronger commitment to Europe's 23 million small and medium-sized businesses, which account for roughly 75% of European jobs.

  • A good place to start would be slashing red tape that plagues bantam firms, making a real push so that innovators can finally obtain faster and cheaper pan-European patents, and using more muscle to pry open the single market for little players.
  • Instead of multi-billion-euro bailouts for big banks and corporations, which small businesses will fund in subsequent years through higher taxes, support for more modest enterprises could better pull Europe out of its economic malaise.
EurActiv representatives request that Mr. Barosso Barroso pushes for faster progress on the Small Business Act, which he grandly called "a step towards a Europe of entrepreneurs".

Unfortunately, when the Union's leader presented his program for the next five years, little guys seemed an afterthought, far behind markets, citizens and climate.

  • Little has changed besides a general deterioration of the business mood.
  • Cut red tape: Reports estimate that while a big company spends an average of €1 per employee on regulatory duties, a small business has to spend up to €10. This is due partly to the fixed costs of regulatory filings, meaning a little firm must fill in the same form as a big one.
  • The 2008 business act aims to reduce small business's administrative burden by 25% by 2012 and the Commission claims to be on schedule. Sticking to this commitment is key. As Xavier Damman, CEO of the small Belgian Internet company Tweetag, says, governments can best help small businesses "by being as invisible as possible."

With affiliates in 10 countries, EurActiv have their own experiences of the red tape that entrepreneurs face.

For example: In Germany, company registration is supposed to take three days. But after agreeing all details in German, it still took EurActiv five hours of notary time and three months of waiting for notice or approval from five different authorities – the court, the business register, the chamber of commerce, tax authorities and the labour administration – to set up, a simple joint venture.

In Romania, after six months of paying lawyers' fees, EurActiv efforts to register a modest operating change remain unrealized.

This gap between Brussels' good intentions and practical national realities is one that small companies cannot afford.

Read the complete article from The Wall Street Journal: "Mr. Barroso,  Take Down Smalll Bussiness Walls".

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