Creating a European environment in which start-ups can flourish

guest post by Jan Versteeg, Ambassador at Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Greece

On 26-28 June Athens will welcome a large number of international speakers for the 1st European Young Entrepreneurship conference. One of the prominent people that made a strong plea to organise this event in Athens, is EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes. Commissioner Kroes has done a lot for the European start-up scene and it is for this reason that I am especially happy with her involvement and her participation through video link in this European event in Athens, where the start-up scene has started to flourish in the last few years.

The focus is shifting from containing the effects of the crisis, to restoring growth, creating jobs and laying the foundations for the future. I am convinced that Europe –the world’s largest single market- has at least one very strong point, and that’s its human capital. Take a country like Greece, it has a great stock of creative, highly educated young people that are prepared to work hard. A uniquely high number of young people has studied at excellent universities, speaks different foreign languages and feels at home in the wider world. The big challenge is how to mobilise that potential. One of the answers is better use of the possibilities the EU offers us.

Young enterprises can be key to restoring growth in Europe. Now, already 60% of new jobs in my country is created by small and medium-sized enterprises less than 5 years old. But still, when it comes to fully benefiting from the potential of young, innovative and scalable enterprises –start-ups- we Europeans can do much better.

We need to create a competitive European environment in which start-ups can flourish. Overcoming fragmentation within Europe and creating an atmosphere in which taking risks and even failing is appreciated or at least accepted, is an important prerequisite for success. I think we can learn a lot from the United States in this field – that’s why I am very thrilled that we will also have speakers from overseas, who can share their experience with us.

I am especially happy we could assist YES in the organisation of this event, part of which will take place at Orange Grove, the flexible workspace the Netherlands embassy set up almost a year ago on the ground floor of our building. For more information visit &

I hope to see you all in Athens on June 26-28th!