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Accountancy and international experts tackle self-employment challenges faced today in Europe


31 Jan 2020



Tackling bogus self-employment, differences in European systems and ensuring adequate social protection and remuneration will help the self-employed realise greater opportunities, experts revealed

The calls were made at The changing environment of the self-employed conference held in Brussels by Eurofound, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and SMEunited. It saw panellists discuss a range of opportunities around increased labour market flexibility, and diversified work.

However, the challenges faced by the self-employed across Europe were spelled out by a range of distinguished experts, including the conference organisers, EU and national decision-makers, academics, representatives from the OECD, ETUC, CEPs, and the Accountancy profession

 A first panel session, moderated by Jason Piper,Tax and Business Law policy lead at ACCA, explored taxation, employment and social aspects, including the thorny issue of social protection.

A second session, moderated by Salla Saastamoinen, Director for Civil and Commercial Justice at DG JUST, covered company law and platform business relations, including issues linked to competition, fair digital corporate responsibility and fairness in platform work.

Juan Menéndez-Valdés, Executive Director of Eurofound, led calls for sustainable working conditions and underlined current trends in self-employment.

He said: ‘While self-employment is not growing overall - with a marginal increase of proportion of self-employed without employees and a marginal decrease of self-employed with employees- some issues are changing.

‘It is important that self-employed can use their autonomy and innovation capacity in an environment that ensures sustainable working conditions and adequate social protection and remuneration’.

Luc Hendrickx, Entreprise Policy Director at SMEunited, urged for action on bogus self-employment.

He said:’Self-employed are entrepreneurs and risk takers. Bogus self-employment is illegal and has to be fought’.

Gerhard Huemer, Director -Economic of Affairs and Fiscal Policy at SMEunited, emphasised difficulties in developing policy for self-employed at the European level.

He said: ’We feel that it is not feasible to have a common definition of self-employed at European level. Differences in member states must be recognised, including historical aspects, institutional set-ups, existing regulation.

‘Every EU member state has a different concept of self-employment. It is therefore important to address this issue at national level – finding a European solution will not be easy’.

Jason Piper, identified taxation as another vital piece in the jigsaw for the self-employed.

He added: ‘What contribution does society expect from them, and what can we expect in return? And in the rapidly evolving world of the digitalising economy, how should tax administrations and tax policy makers respond to the challenges of digital platforms, introducing new models for the supply of sales, goods, services and labour?’

 Dragos Pîslaru, MEP, and coordinator for the Employment Committee for Renew Europe, said that the European Commission’s Roadmap towards a Social Europe demonstrates a clear commitment to provide equal opportunities for all, fair working conditions and social protection and inclusion.

He said: ’This is indeed the way, but in order for the ‘EU social policymaking’ to be really back in business on the EU agenda, it is time to act with new instruments. And, no matter the solution envisaged, technology needs to be part of it.’

‘We need to look forward with optimism and really see how we can develop and not hinder things. We talked about bogus self-employed, but we first must ensure that we don’t make bogus legislation.’.

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About ACCA

For media enquiries, contact: Cecile Bonino-Liti, Head of EU Affairs, ACCA Brussels.

E: ; Twitter: @ACCAViews;

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants, offering business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.

ACCA supports its 219,000 members and 527,000 students (including affiliates) in 179 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 110 offices and centres and 7,571 Approved Employers worldwide, and 328 approved learning providers who provide high standards of learning and development.

Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.

ACCA has introduced major innovations to its flagship qualification to ensure its members and future members continue to be the most valued, up to date and sought-after accountancy professionals globally.

Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. More information is here:

About SMEunited

SMEunited is the employers’ organisation representing Crafts and SMEs from the EU and accession countries at European level. SMEunited has 64 member organisations covering about 12 million enterprises with 55 million employees. SMEunited is a European Social Partner. For further information please visit or follow @SMEunited on Twitter.