EU Integration as Better Environment for Youth Entrepreneurship

BY: M.Sc. Ajka Baru?i?, Institute for Youth Development KULT

The majority of the BiH public may not be aware that the EU – Western Balkans Youth Forum was held last month, at the same time as the Western Balkans Summit in Trieste. The European Commission purposefully scheduled the event so that young and «older» leaders meet at the same place at the same time. They also ensured that youth send their conclusions to the participants of the Summit. By doing so, the European Commission allowed youth to tell the authorities about their needs, demands and suggestions.

They did well to make this communication official, following the necessary procedure. EU procedure, so it’s «on the record» and not said by a young person caught walking down Ferhadija by a TV crew. But the government and politicians would do well to listen to these voices. However, the question remains of how much of this the governments will take under consideration. Will some of the proposals, even just one, will be implemented? Will the next summit of leaders and youth conference see them proudly present some measurable result? In the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is heavy skepticism. Changes in our country are usually slow, they come too late or started off on the wrong foot and missed their intended goal. This is especially true when it comes to youth. Always in the shadow, marginalized or manipulated by politicians and in election campaigns. 

One group of proposals and conclusions from the forum concerned youth entrepreneurship. It was said that the process of promoting and integrating entrepreneurial skills as key competencies in all parts of the education system, and build the capacities of all stakeholders participating in these processes. It was also noted that young entrepreneurs should be included in existing entrepreneurial associations and chambers of economy in their countries, so they can contribute to the design, implementation and assessment of the impact of youth entrepreneurship policies. Also noted was the need to find more diverse ways of providing financial and professional support to youth businesses, and the necessity of offering continuous programs and measuring results so that each new program can build on previous ones. 

In Western Europe a lot of things are very nicely regulated when it comes to youth launching and managing their businesses. That’s why youth aren’t afraid to venture into business. The system supports them whether they succeed or fail. They have flexibility and incentives. They are not constricted by rigid, strict and unyielding rules. Like they are in BiH. How could a young person, a potential entrepreneur, not fear the launch of their own business when older business owners scare them by simply truthfully describing the difficult conditions they operate under, struggling to survive on the market, and the government’s harsh rules. For instance, business owners in BiH have to pay the state the VAT they are due by the 10th day of the month, regardless of whether or not they collected payment for their goods and services. They have to pay with money they don’t have.

European countries offer more generous deadlines: by the 12th day of the month in Sweden and Finland, 14th in Bulgaria, 15th in Austria, Montenegro and Luxemburg, 16th in Italy, 20th in Belgium, Estonia, Croatia, Latvia and Spain, 24th in France, 25 in the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland and Romania, 28th in Denmark, and last day of the month in Greece and Slovenia. The tax period for calculating and paying VAT is longer than one month in some countries, making it easier for business owners to pay their taxes: by the 20th day of the month after the end of the quarter in Hungary, by the 23rd day for previous two months in Ireland, by the last day of the month after the end of the quarter in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, by the 40th day after the end of the quarter in Cyprus, 45th in Malta, etc.

Regardless of scepticism regarding the effects of EU accession on Western Balkans countries, why not treat it as a reason and opportunity to finally do something for youth, youth entrepreneurship and employment?!


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