Since 2008 Europe has been suffering the effects of the most severe economic crisis it has seen in 50 years: for the first time in Europe there are over 25 million unemployed and in the majority of Member States small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have not yet been able to bounce back to their pre-crisis levels.

Before the on-going economic and financial crisis, the European economy faced structural challenges to its competitiveness and growth, and obstacles to entrepreneurship. Many of these persist, but the crisis has also been a catalyst for deep change and restructuring. The world economy has also been transformed over the last decade. Rapidly increasing demand and production in global markets has put pressure on resource and energy supplies leading to changing cost structures for Europe's companies, many of which are dependent on imports for these supplies.

The Europe 2020 Strategy responded to this by setting out the foundations for future growth and competitiveness that will be smart, sustainable and inclusive, and which would address our principal societal challenges. Correcting the problems of the past and putting the EU on a more sustainable development path for the future is a shared responsibility of the Member States and the EU Institutions. Recognising that our economies are closely intertwined, the EU is now reshaping its economic governance to ensure better policy responses to current and future challenges.

To bring Europe back to growth and higher levels of employment, Europe needs more entrepreneurs. As a follow up to the Small Business Act review of April 2011 and of the Industrial policy communication adopted last October, the proposed Action Plan sets out a renewed vision and a number of actions to be taken at both EU and Member States' level to support entrepreneurship in Europe. It is based on three pillars : developing entrepreneurial education and training; creating the right business environment; role models and reaching out to specific groups.