Policies need to support our entrepreneurs

  • Alain Lamassoure MEP

    “Europe’s strength is its diversity… out of this diversity can flow enormous innovation and progress”

Commentary by Alain Lamassoure MEP, Member, Economic & Monetary Affairs Committee, European Parliament, EPP

It is a great honour to open the first European LSEG report on 1000 Companies to Inspire Europe. The title could not be more accurate and à propos in such challenging times for Europe. In spite of the crises, this report blows a precious wind of optimism and puts a thousand faces to the outstanding believers and builders.

This may be because Europe still works for companies, especially for the 21 million SMEs quietly getting on with growing, together employing more than 33 million people – in a nutshell, the core engine of the European economy.

Who will be the next 1000? From Porto to Munich, our entrepreneurs do not lack ideas or money – wisely invested by equity funds and business angels based overseas – but they do lack solutions to obtain financing at an appropriate price, wherever in Europe they happen to be located.

Europe’s strengths are its diversity, the richness of its heritage, the mélange of approaches, perspectives and traditions it can draw upon. Out of this diversity can flow enormous innovation and progress. Yet, when it calcifies or is misdirected, this diversity becomes a significant weakness, leading to fragmentation. Diversity becomes division; polyphony becomes cacophony; richness becomes spoiled.

This is why our continent is in a crucial transition to bridge the investment gap and put an end to the paradox of having great ideas and great talents, yet a lack of ways and means to support them, which would allow them to compete and lead the field in a global competition. In this transition, policy-makers have a role to play: to shape a stable environment which fosters risk-taking in the long term. How do we do it?

In 2014 the Commission, with the full support of the European Parliament, introduced the EFSI or Juncker Plan, bringing together private and public partnerships. At the time of writing, it has worked for more than 165 SMEs and 57 infrastructure and innovation projects, with a total expected investment triggered of €82.1bn.

A second action addresses fragmentation: 28 differing sets of regulations cannot help to unlock 28 different markets, no matter how revolutionary the sectors operating online.

The third action opens a new chapter of economic integration with the Capital Markets Union in order to ensure that good ideas and good projects can find financial support wherever someone is willing to take the risk, be it in a bank, or on the market. Thirty years after the Single European Act a single finance market still does not exist in Europe. In a union that has a single currency, a single rulebook and a well advanced banking union, it remains an anomaly. In the long run, I believe that an alternative to debt bias would further strengthen the long-term commitment of our markets.

I hope you will let the policymakers help you to help all of us. Enjoy the read.