EU Elections Manifestos: What’s in them for Startups?

February 9, 2024
EU Elections Manifestos: What’s in them for Startups?

As the election season approaches, the European political parties, which are each affiliated to a political group in the European Parliament, are busy drafting their election manifestos. To see what is in them for startups, Allied for Startups dove into the manifestos to surface all that is relevant for startups. Curious? Get your diving mask 🥽 and find out! 


What do Europarties say about startups?

Let’s start with the essentials: what do these manifestos say about startups? Well, don’t get too excited… A week after the farmers’ protests in Brussels, we took our own agricultural tools in hand and ploughed through the manifestos looking for specific plans for startups. The harvest? Limited, at best. Now, let’s have a look at the few honourable mentions in there. Starting with the largest party, the Christian Democratic European People’s Party (EPP) wants to launch a funding programme to increase the number of women-led startups in areas of technological innovation, such as AI. And there is more: the Christian Democrats also promote labour mobility in the EU through the introduction of a European Social Security Pass. 

Over to the Liberals then. In its manifesto, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) party calls for “breaking down barriers” for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Sounds good right? To make it even better, it is worth noting that this aligns with the recent call of tech startups for a relaxation of rules around stock options to help startups recruit top talent. 

The Party of European Socialists (PES), in turn, argue in their manifesto that startups are essential to EU competitiveness and innovation and must be supported, for example by a fair Single Market for goods and services and clear state aid rules. As we are advocating for a strengthened, harmonised Digital Single Market in our very own AFS election manifesto, this is music to our ears 🎶
One last stop: the European Green Party (EGP). The only party that has officially adopted its election manifesto thus far and in it, the Greens outline that they want a fair and just tax system to take the burden off small businesses. 


What’s more?

When it comes to fighting overregulation, the Christian Democrats make a strong pledge in their manifesto to cut EU bureaucracy in key areas such as green, digital, and social policy. And there’s more: the Christian Democrats also want to appoint a dedicated Commissioner for SME issues, introduce a so-called “sunset clause” which is meant to put an expiration date on certain EU legislation, and put in place a “1 in 2 out” principle through which for every new piece of legislation, two existing pieces of legislation should be annulled. In their quest to fight overregulation, the EPP finds the Liberals on their side. Yet, their methods differ, as ALDE aims to address overregulation by strengthening harmonisation within the Single Market. The Liberals criticise the von der Leyen Commission for having created too much bureaucracy for small businesses and want the European Parliament to draw its sword and scrutinise the implementation of too much new legislation during the new mandate. 


Digital Policy

In the realm of digital policy, the EPP wants to enable, develop, and utilise AI, not contain or hinder it through overregulation. Moreover, they define data, digital infrastructure, and technological expertise as the new gold of the economy. To better position the EU in the area of digitalisation and AI, the EPP worked out a five-point plan to support R&D and innovation.
The Liberals, in turn, promise to prioritise investment and innovation to further the green and digital transitions. They also call for flexible funds to respond to crises and new tax rules to encourage countries to redirect public investment towards a sustainable and digital transition and they want to boost the deployment of secure, resilient, high-capacity networks. Moreover, they embrace the potential of AI while maintaining human-centric innovation when it comes to developing the technology.
The Social Democrats, on their end, promote better inclusivity via high-speed internet access and major investment in digital public infrastructure and digital education, something AFS advocates for in its manifesto as well. And AFS and the center-left can find each other in fighting disinformation too!
Lastly, the Greens put interoperability at the centre of its digital policy plans. The Greens’ manifesto reads that “the European Interoperability Framework is a good starting point but does not yet create a level playing field.” Therefore, the Greens push to open standardisation to developers, civil society, and SMEs. 


With the elections closing in, we will continue promoting our own manifesto to make sure that the voice of the startup ecosystem is heard and that startups and scale-ups remain at the European policy table after the elections. 


Fancy a deep dive into the manifestos yourself? You can find them below: