The FINANCIAL — In 2017, in the European Union (EU), there were more than 228 million employed people, and about 33 million of them were self-employed.
Self-employed people in the EU reported several reasons for becoming self-employed in the current job: suitable opportunity (23%), continuation of the family business (16%), usual practice in the field (15%), flexible work hours (11%), no job found as employee (11%) and request by former employer (2%).
There is a slight difference with regard to reasons to become self-employed reported by male and female self-employed in the EU. More women than men followed the usual practice in the field (16% of female self-employed vs 14% male self-employed) and more women than men opted for flexible work hours (14% vs 10%).
As the main difficulties, the self-employed report high administrative burden (13%) and periods of having no customer, no assignments or projects to work on (12%), delayed payments or non-payments (12%), periods of financial hardship (9%), lack of influence on price settings (8%) and lack of income in case of illness (8%). Almost one third of them reported not facing difficulties (28%).
In 2017, in the EU, 77% of the self-employed had two and more clients where none was dominant, 18% of self-employed people in the EU depended on a dominant client and 4% had no client in the last 12 months, according to Eurostat.
Starting a business as a response to suitable opportunity prevails in most countries, with the highest share in Bulgaria, Italy and Hungary
In fifteen EU Member States, “suitable opportunity” was most frequently mentioned as the reason for becoming self-employed, with the largest share in Bulgaria (42%), Italy (39%) and Hungary (36%). In three countries – Belgium (28%), Germany (21%) and Latvia (20%) – the most frequent reason was “usual practice in the field”.
In another three – Poland (27%), Greece (25%) and Spain (24%) – “continuation of family business” was predominant. “No job found as an employee” was noted as the most frequent reason in Romania (38%) and Cyprus (25%). In five countries – Austria (40%), Denmark (35%), the United Kingdom (27%), Luxembourg and France (both 26%) – the self-employed wanted to run their own business for “other reason”.
More than 40% of self-employed in Czechia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom reported no difficulties in their work
In the EU, 28% of the self-employed reported facing no difficulties working as self-employed in the last 12 months.
In twenty-four EU Member States, “no difficulty” was most frequently mentioned as experienced when self-employed, with the largest share in Czechia (44%), the Netherlands (42%), the United Kingdom (41%), Sweden and Germany (both 40%). In three countries – Estonia (30%), Cyprus (24%) and Greece (23%) – the most often mentioned burden was “periods of financial hardship”. In Italy (26%), the main reported difficulty was ”high administrative burden”.