The EU for all its lethargy, faults and fetishization of paperwork, is, in the end, a good suggestion. It is likely to be 64 years from the formation of the European Frequent Market, however it’s 29 years because the EU’s formation within the Maastricht Treaty, and this worldwide entity is unquestionably nonetheless performing like an indecisive millennial, glad to flit round tech startup coverage. It’s lengthy due time for this digital nomad to commit to 1 ‘location’ on the way it treats startups.
If there’s one factor we will all agree on, this can be a distinctive second in time. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the acceptance of know-how globally, particularly in Europe. Fortunately, tech corporations and startups have confirmed to be extra resilient than a lot of the established economic system. Consequently, the EU’s political leaders have began to look in direction of the innovation economic system for a extra sustainable future in Europe.
However this second has not come quickly sufficient.
The European tech scene continues to be lagging behind its US and Asia counterparts in numbers of startups created, expertise within the tech sector, financing rounds, and IPOs / exits. It doesn’t assist, in fact, that the European market is so fractionalized, and can be for a very long time to come back.
However there’s completely no excuse on the subject of the EU’s obligations to reform startup laws, taxation, and the event of expertise, to “degree the enjoying subject” in opposition to the US and Asian tech giants.
However, to place it bluntly: The EU can’t appear to get its shit collectively round startups.
Contemplate this litany of proposals.
Beginning as far again a 2016 we had the Start-Up and Scale-Up Initiative. We even had the Scale-Up Manifesto in the identical yr. Then there was the Cluj Recommendations (2019), and the Not Optional marketing campaign for choices reform in 2020.
Let’s face it, the group of VC´s, founders, and startup associations in Europe has been saying largely the identical issues for years, to nationwide and European leaders.
Lastly, this yr, we acquired one thing approaching a summation of all these efforts.
Portugal, which has the European presidency for the primary half of this yr, took the bull by its horns and created one thing approaching a ultimate draft of what the EU wants.
After, once more, intense consultations with European ecosystem stakeholders, it recognized eight finest practices in an effort to degree the enjoying subject protecting the gamut of points resembling quick startup creation, expertise, inventory choices, innovation in regulation and entry to finance. You identify it, it lined it.
These have been then put into the Startup Nations Standard and offered to the European Council at Digital Day on March nineteenth, along with the European Fee’s DG CNECT and its Commissioner Tierry Breton. I wrote about this on the time.
Would the EU lastly get a grip, and join these evidently workable proposals?
It appeared, a minimum of, that we is likely to be getting someplace. Some 25 member states signed the declaration that day, and maybe for the primary time, the political consensus appeared to be forming round this coverage.
Certainly, a physique set as much as shepherd the initiative (the European Startup Nations Alliance) was even introduced by Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa which, he stated, could be tasked with monitoring, creating and optimizing the requirements, gathering information from the member states on their success and failure, and reporting on its findings in a bi-annual convention aligned with the altering presidency of the European Council.
It will appear we might pop open a relaxing bottle of DOC Bairrada Espumante and rejoice that Europe would possibly lastly begin implementing a minimum of the fundamentals from these instructed insurance policies.
However no. With the pandemic nonetheless raging, it appeared the EU’s leaders nonetheless had loads of time on their palms to ponder these topics.
Thus it was that the Scaleup Europe initiative emerged from the thoughts of Emmanuel Macron, assembling a choose group of 150-plus of Europe’s main tech founders, traders, researchers, company CEOs and authorities officers to do some extra pondering about startups. After which there was the Global Powerhouse Initiative of DG Analysis & Improvements Commissioner, Mariya Gabriel.
Sure, girls and gents, we have been about to undergo this course of once more, with the EU performing as if it had the reminiscence span of a large goldfish.
Now, I’m not arguing that each one these collective actions are a foul factor. However, by golly, European startups want extra decisive motion than this.
As issues stand, as an alternative of implementing the very cheap Portuguese proposals, we are going to now have to attend for the EU’s wheels to slowly flip till the French presidency comes round subsequent yr.
That stated, with a bit of luck, a physique to supervise the implementation of tech startup coverage that’s mandated by the European group, composed of organizations like La French Tech, Startup Portugal and Startup Estonia, would possibly lastly appear inside attain.
However to anybody from the skin, it feels once more as if the gnashing of EU coverage enamel should go on but longer. With the French calling for a ‘La French Tech for Europe’ and the Portuguese having already launched ESNA, the efforts appear removed from coordinated.
Within the ultimate evaluation, tech startup founders and traders couldn’t care much less the place this new physique comes from or which nation launches it.
After years of contributions, years of consultations, the time for motion is now.
It’s time for EU member states to agree, and transfer ahead, serving to different member states catch up primarily based on established finest practices.
It’s time for the long-awaited European Tech Giants to blossom, tackle the US-born Massive Tech Giants, and for Europe to lastly punch its weight.