EMCC European Monitoring Centre on Change

Belgium: ERM comparative analytical report on Public support instruments to support self-employment and job creation in one-person and micro enterprises

  • Observatory: EMCC
  • Topic:
  • Published on: 12 January 2012



About
Country:
Belgium
Author:
Simon Erkes
Institution:

Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

The public support to self-employment is nearly the same since few years. The priorities about self-employment are to increase motivation and the social security status and to offer better start-up conditions by advising and backing young entrepreneurs. Once more, the political context impacts strongly the situation. The lack of a full-power government obstructs the development of new support instruments. The last measures had been developed at the very beginning of the crisis and were not especially aimed to tackle it. Some temporary crisis measures had been settled up to reduce the impact of the crisis on self-employment or to offer more favourable conditions in case of failure.

QUESTIONNAIRE

Part 1: Overall policy context

This section aims at giving a brief overview of the general development and status quo of the policy discussion and thereof resulting instruments, measures or initiatives in the field of fostering self-employment and job creation in one-person and micro enterprises (less than 10 employees). Focus is mainly on the developments during the last decade, that is before the global recession. In addition we are asking for your indication of change of policy focus since the recession.

1. General policy approach in the area of self-employment, one-person and micro enterprises at the national level


1.1. Has there been a policy focus/debate on the specific challenges facing entrepreneurship as tool for job creation before the global recession? If so, since when and for how long?

Table 1: Presence of policy focus/debate on entrepreneurship as facilitation for job creation before the crisis
 

Yes, continuously since xx? (Please indicate year)

Yes, on and off in the last 10 years

(Please indicate ‘X’ where it applies)

Yes, has been in focus, but since xx it is no longer part of the policy focus (Please indicate year)

No, it has never had policy focus before the recession

(Please indicate ‘X’ where it applies)

Self-employment  

X

   
Hiring the first employee  

X

   
Hiring additional employees/creating additional jobs in micro enterprises  

X

   


1.2. What is the main focus in policy documents or strategies in relation to public or social partner based support instruments for fostering self-employment or job creation in one-person and micro enterprises? (Please indicate ‘X’, multiple answers possible)

Table 2: Main focus in the policy documents or strategies
 

Entrepreneurship (Business development in general)

Job creation (Employment)

Growth (Competitiveness)

Others (please specify)

Self-employment

x

x

x

 
Hiring the first employee

x

x

   
Hiring additional employees/creating additional jobs in micro enterprises  

x

   

1.3. Please elaborate on the answer given above (with a focus on those developments aimed at employment creation and growth) and indicate if the financial recession has caused a change of focus:

Table 3: The policy content and significance of the financial recession
Self-employment
Elaboration of content (please describe and also indicate whether it is treated explicitly/implicitly)

For few years, self employment is highly encouraged. The policies were focusing on how to stimulate entrepreneurial spirit, how to support people (especially unemployed) to develop their own activities, how to increase social status of self-employed and how to delete discrimination between salaried work and self-employment. The 2008 Self-employment plan goes on that way by providing a large range of measures. Next to that, the Ministry of Self-employment has launched a specific family plan which aims to offer to self-employer facilities for balancing work and life. The public support to encourage self-employment is targeting young and woman.

Change due to the financial recession

Please tick:

Yes: X

No:

If ‘Yes’, please elaborate:

Specific crisis measures for self-employed have been created to limit the impact of the crisis. It aims to offer a more flexible framework by extending some general criteria (eg the time for paying social security contributions is longer) or to offer a protection for self-employed who had to stop their activities because of the crisis.

Hiring the first employee
Elaboration of content (please describe and also indicate whether it is treated explicitly/implicitly)

Since 2002, hiring the first employee is facilitated by measures reducing the social security contribution. It works for the three first hirings. The structural changes coming from the first hiring are often considered as complex and a goal of policies’ content is to facilitate the different steps by offering grouped services in an only one ‘enterprise desk’.

Change due to the financial recession

Please tick:

Yes: □

No: x

If ‘Yes’, please elaborate:

Hiring additional employees/creating additional jobs in micro enterprises
Elaboration of content (please describe and also indicate whether it is treated explicitly/implicitly)

Hiring additional employees in micro enterprise is not aimed by specific measures. But the employment incentives are available to every kind of activities, including micro enterprises. Differences are more made regarding to the mission of the organisation (public, profit or non profit organisation). The eligibility criteria of those plans are generally linked to the employment situation of the hired worker (age, length of unemployment,...) rather than to the kind of entrepreneurial structure. Those devices have a different nature: hiring prime, reduction to social security contribution, wage subsidies, etc.

Change due to the financial recession

Please tick:

Yes: x

No: □

If ‘Yes’, please elaborate: The changes due to the financial recession are about an extension of the eligibility criteria. By this way, more workers are concerned by those plans.

2. Disincentives for self-employment and job creation

The following two questions will investigate whether there has been a change in the political agenda which has forced new political initiatives that may result in disincentives for job creation and business development (e.g. considerations regarding public budget).


2.1 Have public measures (e.g. with the aim to increase public revenue or cut public spending) led to disincentives for self-employment or job creation in one-person or micro enterprises before the financial recession? (Please briefly describe the major developments/initiatives (max. 300 words)

It is very hard to identify and describe measures that lead to disincentives.

Self-employment in Belgium is highly encouraged. But the framework of self-employment status is considered as restrictive. Even if the self-employed status is presented as a way to get more income, the high level of taxes (company taxes and community taxes) and fixed cost (as energy costs) seems to be the most important curb that impedes entrepreneurial initiatives as well as the high difference between social security status between self-employed and salaried workers.

The complexity of the administrative framework and the lack of clear and reachable information also appear as an important curb for people to develop their own business or for micro enterprises to hire new workers.

According to the Ministry of Self-employment and SMEs, 70 % of Belgian citizens consider that self-employment, micro enterprises and SMEs constitute the heart of our economy but only 2% plan to start their own business. That shows us how important it is to offer a large range of measures to encourage entrepreneurial sprit, to facilitate access to information and financial support. That is the way the federal plan for SMEs and self-employed, launched in 2008, is following Federal Plan for SME - New horizon for SME, 2008 - 73ko


2.2 Have public measures (e.g. with the aim to increase public revenue or cut public spending) led to disincentives for self-employment or job creation in one-person or micro enterprises as a result of the financial recession? (Please describe – max. 300 words)

Same than above! It is very difficult to identify disincentive measures resulting of the recession. There are different reasons for that. First, the political situation and the lack of a federal government led to a deadlock in the field of developing new instrument. That is why there is not yet a large reflation plan. As a result of which we cannot identify particular instruments playing as disincentives.

The only new measures are specific and temporary crisis measures for self-employed and aimed to limit the impact of the crisis or to increase social support in case of failure.

3. Representation of/lobbying for self-employed and micro enterprises


Are self-employed and micro enterprises in your national context explicitly or implicitly (e.g. entrepreneurs or SMEs in general) represented by the following types of organisations (e.g. for lobbying, defending their interest etc.)?

Table 4: Representation of self-employed and micro enterprises
 

Self-employed

Micro enterprises

Employers’ organisations

Yes (UCM, Unizo)

Yes (UCM, Unizo)

Employees’ organisation

No

No

Not-for-profit organisations

No

No

Others

Self-employment Union (Syndicats des independants et des PMS, Syndicaat der Zelfstandingen en KMO’s ; SDI/SDZ)

Self-employment Union (Syndicats des independants et des PMS, Syndicaat der Zelfstandingen en KMO’s ; SDI/SDZ)

Part 2: Identification and description of relevant recent support instruments

The following section asks for the identification of public or social partner based support instruments initiated during or after the recent economic crisis (that is, 2008 onwards). These measures might have, but must not necessarily have been triggered by the recession. Measures may also have been initiated earlier, but changed in order to adapt to the recession or other recent developments. Rather than a comprehensive list of all instruments available at national, regional or local level, the most important, most innovative, most interesting and most effective tools are to be described. Thereof, a selection of up to three ‘Good Practices’ to be described in more detail is to be made.

1. Selection of region(s) when total coverage of the entire regional and local level is too comprehensive

When providing the brief overview and the three ‘Good Practices’ in this section of the questionnaire, measures and instruments at national level have to be included. We would in addition ask you to include regional and local level initiatives where relevant. Nonetheless, a complete coverage of regional and local levels may not be possible for all countries (e.g. because of a high degree of decentralisation resulting in a wide range of respective measures characterised by considerably heterogeneity). At the same time, it can be assumed that for instruments targeting at supporting self-employment and the creation of employment in one-person and micro enterprises the local administrative level is of considerable importance. If so, such measures will be designed to fit to the local characteristics and needs, resulting in a wide variety of different approaches. In this case, one or few local areas or regions may be selected to be covered in this report. Details on the selection are given in table 5.

Table 5: Administrative level/region(s) covered for the following research (max. 50 words per region)

Administrative level relevant for the rest of the questionnaire

National level

If a specific regional/local are is selected, please provide the following information

Name of region

 
Motivation for selecting this region

Facts about the region e.g.

- Geographic location

- No. of inhabitants

- Business structure (sector, size)

- Labour market

- Specific characteristics if applicable

 

2. Brief overview of recent instruments to foster self-employment or job creation in one-person and micro enterprises


2.1. Please provide a brief description (max. 800 words) of public or social partner based instruments recently initiated (2008 onwards) to support self-employment and job creation in one-person or micro enterprises.

Measures covered by the European Employment Observatory Review on self-employment 2010, European Commission, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities are to be omitted to avoid duplication (see Part 3 of this questionnaire).

Because of the political situation, there are not particular new instruments or elements developed to support self-employment or to support employment in micro enterprise. In the field of support of self-employed facing the crisis, the measures that have been launched since 2008 knew some time extension. In the field of employment, there are no specific measures for micro enterprises but the traditional employment incentives are available for every kind of enterprise. The EEO review on self employment is offering a large view of the different support instruments that exist in those fields.

The main priorities about self-employment are those mentioned in the 2008 plan and are following Lisbon Strategy goals:

- Stimulate enterprises’ creation

- Reinforce owner-manager security

- Increase relations between SMEs and public authorities

- Increase labour market for SMEs

- Reinforce social status for self-employer.

Table 6: List of recent instruments

Title

Aim/objective

Facilitate the access to entrepreneurship

Description of support

Reduction to start-up required capital

Target group

Young and unemployed

Initiator and other actors involved

Federal government

Duration (please also indicate whether the measures has been initiated due to the recession)

This new entrepreneurial structure has been launched in 2010. The required capital is fixed at €1 and the manager has five years to provide the normally required capital. This new instruments has not been launched due to the recession even if it started during the recession. Permanent duration.

Title

Aim/objective

Facilitate hiring of unemployed

Description of support

Reduction of social security contribution. Part of salary is covered by the National Employment Office (Office National de l’Emploi/Rijksdienst voor Arbeidsvoorziening, ONEM/RVA) for a full year of employment.

Target group

Unemployed under 26 y.o. or above 50 y.o. and unemployed for more than a full year

Initiator and other actors involved

National Employment Office (Office National de l’Emploi/Rijksdienst voor Arbeidsvoorziening, ONEM/RVA)

Duration (please also indicate whether the measures has been initiated due to the recession)

The Win-Win plan is an employment incentive. It is the ‘recession update’ of ACTIVA plan. It has been launched due to the recession. Presently, there is no information about the duration and the availability of this plan.

Title

Aim/objective

Supporting enterprises facing lack of cash flow because of the recession

Description of support

Self-employed or micro enterprises may defer the pay of social security contribution for the entrepreneur if they justify a lack of cash flow

Target group

Self-employed and micro enterprises

Initiator and other actors involved

Federal government

Duration (please also indicate whether the measures has been initiated due to the recession)

This measures was available in 2009

Title

Aim/objective

Support and maintain access to social insurance in case of failure

Description of support

Self-employed or micro enterprises facing the crisis may get access to this insurance without closing its activities. The access condition are really strict. A self-employed may, once in his career, get a special insurance in case of failure. This insurance means the maintaining of family and healthcare benefits for a full year and without paying anymore contribution. With the crisis, the access condition to those instruments have been enlarge, even if there are still strict.

http://www.socialsecurity.fgov.be/fr/specifieke-info/zelfstandigen/nieuws.htm#1

Target group

Self-employment and micro-enterprise

Initiator and other actors involved

Federal government

Duration (please also indicate whether the measures has been initiated due to the recession)

From 2009 to 31-01-2011


2.2. In-depth description of ‘Good Practices’

Please choose up to three examples from the above list that can be considered as ‘Good Practice’ (e.g. because of their effectiveness, innovative character or beneficial cooperation among different stakeholders) and describe them in detail.

No information available.

Part 3: Annex: Update on recent self-employment study

The recent European Employment Observatory Review on self-employment 2010, European Commission, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities provides insight into support instruments for self-employment. To avoid duplication of this information, we ask you as National Correspondent to omit these measures already covered in your research (Part 2 of this questionnaire), and only update or add any additional details or measures that exceed the information already provided in this report.

Table 8: Additional information on specific instruments to the EEO national report on self-employment:

Title of the instrument

 
Additional information

Table 9: Please add any other comments to the EEO national report on self-employment:

Table 10: Please indicate ‘X’ if you have no additional information to the EEO national report on self-employment:

Please indicate ‘X’ if you have no additional information to provide

X

Commentary

The Belgian political context really impacts the capacity to develop new particular instruments.



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