WASHINGTON, DC — As unemployment rates remain high in many European Union countries, entrepreneurship could help reduce unemployment in some of these countries by opening new sectors of economic activity that stimulate creativity of jobs. However, majorities in many EU countries – including almost all Italians and Greeks – say their government makes it difficult to start a business, potentially discouraging entrepreneurship where it is most needed.
In February, the European Commission raised its economic growth forecast for the euro zone for 2014 to 1.2%, mainly on the back of an expected 1.8% rise in German growth. Even as the recovery slowly spreads to other countries, growth estimates are meager at best, and their recovery remains fragile as the Commission expects the unemployment rate across the region to remain close to the record level of 12%.
While residents of most EU countries are more likely to think that the government makes starting a business difficult rather than easy, this perception is particularly concerning for future growth in countries like Greece and the Spain, where unemployment is not expected to fall much. lower than 26% this year. New jobs in these and several other European countries will have to come largely from the private sector after austerity measures led to some of the biggest public sector job cuts in a generation.
But even in Germany, where unemployment is low, removing government barriers to entrepreneurship could help spur the investment the country needs to support its largely export-led growth. And, on the positive side for Germany, while almost half of Germans (46%) say their government makes it difficult to start a business, almost as many (42%) say their government makes it easier to start a business .
Business owners remain good role models
Although many EU residents view government regulations as barriers to starting a business, investing in mentoring programs that pair current business owners with potential entrepreneurs can be a way to remove these barriers. perceived and encourage entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs are viewed favorably in most European countries: even in Italy, where almost everyone perceives the government as making it difficult to start a business, a majority still view business owners as good role models for young people.
In several EU countries, improving economic conditions could lead residents to view business more positively. In Germany, for example, in 2013 more than seven in ten adults considered business owners to be good role models for young people, up from 53% the previous year. Additionally, young Germans aged 15-29 (81%) are even more likely to view business owners as good role models, making them ideal candidates as potential mentors or mentees.
Late last month, EU Commissioner Olli Rehn called the EU’s recovery “gaining ground” and suggested that “the worst of the crisis may now be behind us.” But he also warned that the recovery was “still modest”. All EU countries except Cyprus and Slovenia are expected to avoid recession in 2014. However, the situation clearly remains difficult in many member states where unemployment, particularly among young people, is high and where little improvement is expected. Entrepreneurship could be part of the solution to job creation in many countries that need help most, but barriers to business creation — real or perceived — will first need to be removed .
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The results are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews with approximately 1,000 adults aged 15 and over, conducted in 2013 in each country. For results based on the total national adult sample, the margin of sampling error ranged from ±2 percentage points to ±5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling errors, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce errors or biases into the results of public opinion polls.
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