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The Startup Europe Manifesto: A plan for a more entrepreneur-friendly EU

Teach children entrepreneurship, roll out a pan-European Startup Visa and make it easier for high-growth companies to go public – those are just three recommendations from a 22-point plan that a group of leading European tech entrepreneurs have put forward to the European Commission in a manifestopublished today. Now they’re looking for you, the startup community, to support it.

The Startup Europe Leaders Club is an independent group of entrepreneurs assembled by Vice-President of the European Commission, Neelie Kroes to act as a steering group of sorts for policies relating to entrepreneurship and the Internet economy.

As we reported at the time of its launch, the Club is made up of Spotify’s Daniel Ek, Rovio’s Kaj Hed, TCIO’s Joanna Shields, Seedcamp’s Reshma Sohoni, Tuenti’s Zaryn Dentzel, Atomico’s Niklas Zennström, Hackfwd’s Lars Hinrichs and The Next Web’s co-founder, Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten.

The 22 recommendations are divided into seven themes: Education & Skills; Access to Talent; Access to Capital; Data Policy, Protection & Privacy, and Thought Leadership. The Leaders Club worked with the Founders Forum in London to formulate the plan.

Many of the recommendations are things we’ve heard called for many times before – indeed, some of them have already been done at an EU level. However, the plan is that based on public support for the manifesto, a “robust and actionable” document will be created ahead of a series of meetings in Brussels in October that will set policy priorities for EU bodies such as the European Council with the aim of influencing policy further.

Take a look at the manifesto. If you agree with the recommendations, you can add your support on its website.

➤ Startup Europe Manifesto 

A manifesto for entrepreneurship & innovation to power growth in the EU.

Economic conditions in Europe remain hugely challenging with the European Commission forecasting that euro-zone GDP is set to shrink by 0.4% this year. Yet the growing importance of internet-driven economic growth could transform this picture by helping improve the lives of millions of people providing them with new jobs, new skills and renewed hopes for a better future.

According to research from the Boston Consulting Group(1) the Internet Economy in the developed markets of the G-20 is forecast to grow at an annual rate of 8 percent over the next five years. In developing markets, annual growth is expected to be 18 percent. These rates far outpace traditional economic sectors. No longer confined to high-tech businesses, digital technologies are resulting in the re-imagination of every single industry, holding the promise of creating new jobs and new wealth.

This rising tide can help Europe secure its prospects for the future, helping it emerge stronger, more agile and prosperous. But further action is required to overcome a number of roadblocks that threaten to hamper progress and undermine the potential of this vibrant and thriving sector. We must ensure we have the policies, modes of operation and the ambition to succeed. We need to address the fact that continental Europe currently doesn’t create new businesses destined for growth as well as other parts of the World(2) or produce entrepreneurs as confident about the environment their own country provides for startups(3).

The days of relying on large businesses or the government for job creation are over. Many of the millions of jobs lost over the past five years will never return in their old form. Entrepreneurship, which has been the engine for growth in the United States, has not been cultivated in an effective or systematic way in Europe. To create more businesses and more startups requires more than a change in policy. It requires a change in mentality.

Vice-President of the European Commission Neelie Kroes has created The Startup Europe Leaders Club — an independent group of founders in the field of tech entrepreneurship who provide guidance on strengthening the business environment for web entrepreneurs in Europe. In March 2013, she invited them to develop a manifesto for economic growth. Since June 2013, the initial recommendations based on the grass roots perspective of these successful web entrepreneurs have been further strengthened with the support and collaboration of the Founders Forum in London, a community of the best global entrepreneurs, select inspiring CEOs and key investors in media and technology.

▼   The Plan

Drawn from the combined experience of dozens of Europeans who were lucky enough to imagine, build and grow successful businesses — businesses that created thousands of jobs — we have distilled 22 actionswhich, taken together, can give European businesses the best chance of future success. We now call on entrepreneurs, investors, advisors and other stakeholders across the continent to engage in this dialogue and share their views on the manifesto to help move us towards the adoption of this singular digital growth plan for the EU. Our recommendations are:

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