Briefing – European Parliament : « Crowdfunding in Europe : Introduction and state of play » – January 2017
Crowdfunding is a relatively ‘young’ form of financing – especially for SMEs and startups, but also for not-for-profit projects – that is developing fast in Europe. While researchers point out its benefits, among them the fact that project owners have greater control, and financial risk is spread among a larger number of people, they also note its drawbacks. The latter include a high cost of capital, occasional displays of a ‘herd mentality’, capable of depriving potentially worthier projects of adequate funding, and risks for investors from incompetence or fraud on the part of the project owners, and unclear regulations.
The European Commission (through a communication and two reports) and the European Parliament (through three resolutions) have taken an active interest in this form of financing. As a result, the Commission recently conducted a study on the state of the European crowdfunding market. It found that, while crowdfunding is developing fast, it is still concentrated in a few countries (the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands), which have introduced tailored domestic regimes, and that it remains, for the time being, a national phenomenon with limited cross-border activity. The study therefore concluded that for the moment there is no strong case for EU-level policy intervention. Nonetheless, given the encouraging trends and the potential of crowdfunding to become a key source of financing for SMEs over the long term, the Commission noted that it will maintain regular dialogue with European supervisory authorities, Member States and the crowdfunding sector to monitor and review its development.