With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for freelancers.
Are you a highly-skilled professional, who would rather work for clients on specific projects than have a fixed job? If you have a flair for innovation and are ready to take business risks to gain greater independence and flexibility, why not freelance? You may be surprised to learn that more and more EU citizens are seeking freelancing careers. Freelancing spans many professions, including newly emerging ones, and accounts for the fastest growing segment in the EU labour market. Possibly you are hesitating for fear of failure, red tape, financial concerns, or doubts about your skill set.
The EU is there to help. Its Entrepreneurship 2020 action plan aims to spark the EU’s entrepreneurial spirit, and a number of programmes and initiatives promote education, ease of access to finance and simpler for aspiring entrepreneurs. While the Erasmus+ programme offers education opportunities, the European Innovation Council, and the SME Instrument in particular, offer funds and mentoring services for innovators. As well as financing micro-entrepreneurs, the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation supports the development of appropriate social protection systems and labour market policies.
The European Court of Justice recently ruled that an EU citizen, self-employed in another EU Member State, can retain their right to reside if they become unemployed. Meanwhile, as recently proclaimed in the European Pillar of social rights, the EU is striving to ensure fair working conditions and adequate social protection for all.
- European Commission website on promoting entrepreneurship, https://ec.europa.eu/growth/smes/promoting-entrepreneurship_en
- European Commission website on the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan, https://ec.europa.eu/growth/smes/promoting-entrepreneurship/action-plan_en
This note speaks of “education”, “SMEs”, “micro-finance for vulnerable populations” and “social enterprises”. I am a highly-skilled freelancer. Where do I fit it? Could it be that policy analysts in the European institutions don’t really GET what freelancing is?
Thank you for your feedback.
There are of course many ways in which the EU recognises and seeks to support freelancers at all levels, including those who are highly skilled and established in their particular field, not least with regard to the protection of their social rights, as mentioned at the end of our text. The overarching aim of the European Social Pillar, for example, is to update current social standards so that they correspond to the new realities of work. It seeks to extend the principles of social protection, working conditions, equal treatment etc. in certain areas that are of particular relevance to ‘new’ categories of workers, such as the self-employed, regardless of their area of activity, experience or skill level. The individual programmes mentioned are simply intended as examples of some of the individual schemes that can be of help to certain categories of freelancers and aspiring entrepreneurs.