The European Commission has urged member states to change their tax regimes to be more encouraging to small businesses. It said it would be identifying best practices across the EU that were conducive to “an entrepreneur-friendly fiscal environment”.
Launching an action plan for entrepreneurship yesterday (9 January), Antonio Tajani, the European commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship, said: “We want to make entrepreneurship an attractive and accessible prospect for European citizens. If we can unleash Europe's entrepreneurial potential, we can bring back growth to Europe.”
He stressed the importance of tax regimes to small businesses.
Although the Commission does not have the power to legislate on national taxation, it will nevertheless invite member states to:
make tax administration more favourable to early-stage business;
promote cross-border taxco-ordination to minimise double taxation and other barriers to cross-border enterprise;
reassess corporate income tax regimes;
implement the option for small businesses of a cash accounting scheme for value-added tax;
allow owners of new businesses to ask for adjustments to their payment schedules for social security contributions.
The action plan stresses the importance of education in entrepreneurship in secondary schools. The Commission says that entrepreneurship should be identified as a key competence and included in the curricula of primary, secondary, vocational, higher and adult education before the end of 2015.
The action plan includes ideas to make entrepreneurship more attractive to women, elderly people, migrants and the unemployed. It also urges changes to rules on insolvency so as not to punish “honest failures”.
On the agenda
Tajani said he would be asking the Irish government, which has just taken on the presidency of the Council of Ministers, to put the action plan on the agenda of one of the meetings of the Competitiveness Council during its presidency.
The European association of chambers of commerce and industry, Eurochambres, welcomed the action plan, but said its diverse elements should not distract anyone from the main task of motivating and equipping young people to be entrepreneurs.
Arnaldo Abruzzini, the Eurochambres secretary-general, said: “Too many Europeans are reluctant entrepreneurs, not through some genetic characteristic, but because they have been conditioned to aspire to a ‘safe' employment position. The Commission is right to emphasise that national education systems must promote entrepreneurship as an appealing and viable alternative.”