Europe is still a good place for living. But not so much for doing business. The main goal of politicians is to ensure that the citizens would have a quality of life with which they would be satisfied. The satisfaction of entrepreneurs and firms is much less important to them. Yet, it’s evident that these are related to one another. If the needs of economy are long ignored, the ability to create resources necessary for maintaining or even improving our standards of living will be lost. The politicians – whether the ones in Slovakia, in foreign countries or in institutions of EU – should finally acknowledge several basic priorities vital for business.
Firstly, the EU needs more structural reforms and less centralization. Entrepreneurship needs stable framework. Unfortunately, instead of ensuring stability, the EU is a source of instability. Politicians in EU member countries contribute to this instability by not having having either courage or willingness to implement structural reforms. The politicians in the EU institutions contribute to the instability by implementing a defective model of increasing centralization of decisions on the level of the EU. The point is to “deepen” economic, monetary and fiscal union. This, however, isn’t the solution but rather the beginning of future problems and potential conflicts among the member countries.
Secondly, the EU needs more entrepreneurial freedom and less bureaucracy and regulation. In this discussion, often the subject of critics are the legal norms which increase the costs of doing business, complicate the process of doing business or even make it impossible. In the EU, the effort for solving this problem manifested in the so-called Better regulation agenda, an initiative for easing legal prescription of the EU, resulting in a decrease in regulation costs for businesses and restricting the surplus of work of bureaucrats in the transposition of EU legislation. These efforts are overshadowed by other priorities.
Thirdly, in the EU, we need more of an entrepreneurial spirit and less of a grandiose investment project for entrepreneurial support. Politicians in Europe often “curse” each other. Yet, in most cases they choose unfitting tools. In the case of the EU, the tool is the creation of Fund for strategic investments, which is attractive to media, but there is a risk of wasting the funds of European tax payers. For media less attractive, but on the other hand, more effective, is eg. systemic effort for increase in quality of entrepreneurial education on all levels of schools in Europe from kindergartens to universities
These priorities were important long ago before the Slovak presidency in EU, and will be important during the six months of the presidency itself. They will also remain valid long after sLovakia no longer presides over the EU.
André Beukes is an EU Management Consultant to international companies doing business in Europe. He provides clients with practical business support that makes a real difference doing business in the EU. “Put simply, I am here to help you meet your challenges. I believe in the importance of doing things correctly, meaning risks are reduced and problems are avoided.”