Alphabet’s Schmidt Criticizes Europe for Lack of Entrepreneurs

  • Schmidt: Focus shouldn’t be on protection from U.S. rivals
  • Says Europe must fix university funding, relax labor laws

Alphabet Inc. Chairman Eric Schmidt said European governments should spend less time “arguing about zero sum games” and trying to protect domestic industries from U.S. technology competitors, and do more to promote entrepreneurs and expand the economy.

Instead of focusing on trying to thwart U.S. dominance, “Europe should be creating more entrepreneurs,” said Schmidt, speaking at the Brilliant Minds conference in Stockholm.

Eric Schmidt

Photographer: Johan Jeppsson/Bloomberg

Alphabet, parent company of Google, is facing several investigations by European governments over allegations ranging from not paying enough taxes to abusing its search engine’s market dominance, to inadequate compliance with European privacy laws. But Schmidt said Google had a “good, healthy relationship with all our regulators.”

One path to more innovation in Europe would be to change the way the continent funds its universities, so that graduate departments have far more money to conduct experiments and develop new technology, Schmidt said.

“The lack of capital for universities is a direct cause of the lack of startups in Europe," he said.

The continent should also make its labor laws and business regulations more flexible, Schmidt said, perhaps creating exceptions for companies with fewer than 15 employees so that entrepreneurs would find it easier to start businesses.

“I buy into all the social rules, all the health standards, et cetera, but they need to take barriers away to starting new companies,” he said. “Government should try to make it costless.”

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