The study by French academic Stephane Rapelli highlights that while employment rates in Europe have stagnated in the last decade, the number of freelancers or 'independent professionals' (I-Pros) has risen to over eight million in the same period.
The United Kingdom (1.6 million) and Germany (1.5m) are among those with the highest numbers of iPros, while France (0.7m) and Poland (0.4m) also feature highly on the list.
Data within the report, carried out on behalf of the European Forum of Independent Professionals (EFIP), suggests that the EU nations with the healthiest number of independent professionals are also those that display the most resilience during times of economic hardship.
Nations which saw the most growth in freelancing, up 83 per cent across the EU in total, are also those generally accepted to be dealing better with the economic crisis. Germany (+16 per cent), France (+36 per cent), Poland (+24 per cent) and the UK (+25 per cent) showed the largest increase while in contrast, numbers in Spain (-nine per cent) and Italy (-one per cent) decreased over the same time period.
John Brazier, President of EFIP and Managing Director of UK freelancer group, the PCG, said that the report proves that freelancing is not only on the increase as a mode of working, it is serving a valuable purpose in economies across the continent.
He said: "Having access to freelancers in an economy provides flexibility, value and minimises risk to businesses. This is important when times are good but when times are bad, these factors become the difference between success and failure."
Anthea McIntyre MEP, Conservative Employment Spokesman is Brussels said: "The fact that there is growth in freelancing despite tough economic conditions is encouraging for both the sector and for the European economy as a whole. The report not only provides evidence of growth, it also presents policy makers with crucial insight into the makeup of the sector."
The full report 'European I-Pros: A Study, paints a detailed picture of the independent professionals currently working in the EU, characteristics displayed across country of origin, popular professions, modes of working, gender trends plus a full breakdown by age and education.
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Susie Hughes © Shout99 2012