EU needs risk-takers to compete with US: EU's Kroes

European entrepreneurs need to be more willing to take risks in order to compete with their American counterparts, the EU's digital commissioner, Neelie Kroes, told CNBC on Monday.

Speaking at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in London, Kroes said that entrepreneurs in Europe were generally more risk-averse than those in America, which was holding them back.

"You never get a better result if you stick to that (risk-averse) line. You have to take risks," she said, stressing that if you are not willing to fail, "you will not be successful".

"We should change that mindset in Europe," she said.

Kroes admitted that Europe's tech scene had some way to go before it caught up with the U.S., particularly when it comes to investment – although she said that things were getting better.

Neelie Kroes
John Thys | AFP | Getty Images
Neelie Kroes

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"Talking about venture capital, business angel (investors) - it's there, but it's still not really comparable to what's happening in the United States. But it's happening already, so I'm more positive (about Europe)," she said.

Her comments come at an interesting time for tech in Europe,with the European Union coming in for criticism over its stance on privacy in particular.

Google, for instance, is the subject of investigations in a number of member states over its privacy policies. The search giant has already agreed to remove some 170,000 links under Europe's controversial "right to be forgotten" rule.

The CEO of AOL (which owns TechCrunch), Tim Armstrong, told CNBC that such rules and regulations would have an impact on companies looking to do business in Europe.

"It will have an effect on business in those countries, but overall the opportunities are still bigger than the legal issues around privacy and taxes," he told CNBC at the TechCrunch conference on Monday. "It's much better to do business with other countries and figure out how to work with them, and that's what we're focused on."

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He was bullish on Europe more broadly, arguing that the region was one of the key places AOL had identified opportunities -- specifically in the tech and media sectors

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"When you think about the future of media and technology, Europe has a big role to play," he said. "While the overall economy may be up and down – and I think it is up and down right now – the tech sector is very strong."

- By CNBC's Katrina Bishop