spain one-stop shops to assist entrepreneurs in setting up new companies and expanding existing ones. but financing remains scarce.

sweden "greenhouse" business incubators located on university campuses. but more early-stage financing is needed.

united kingdom regional venture capital funds, tax cuts, review of all new business regulations. but support services are not always of equal quality countrywide.

source: the european commission, business environment simplification task force

esperanto, no. english, yes.

it's getting a lot easier to eavesdrop in paris these days. while high school french still comes in handy, more and more of the conversations you overhear in the city's cafes and restaurants are studded with english words, especially when people discuss the internet and business.

the spread of english through continental europe is nothing new. the french have railed against the phenom-enon at least since the 1960s. yet the internet, combined with the spread of american-style business practices around the world over the last decade, has turned a leak into a flood. growing numbers of european companies - including such giants as france's alcatel and germany's bertelsmann - now use english for internal communications.

it is easy to understand the horror that many europeans feel toward this invader. if everyone in europe ends up using english to discuss business and science, does that mean french, german, and italian will be relegated mainly to the theater, kitchen, and bedroom? might some languages even fall from common use, following in the path of, say, gaelic, which the irish government keeps alive only through forced instruction in schools? the rise of english also poses political challenges. in quadrilingual switzerland, many fear that use of english will erode the cultural bindings that help hold the country together.