Setting up a business in Europe gives you automatic access to one of the world’s largest business centres, with a solid infrastructure, strong legal protection and a skilled workforce The EU is the world’s second largest economy, with a nominal GDP of USD 15.6 trillion, and remains the largest trading bloc. The World Bank’s «Ease of Doing Business» ranking places nine European countries among the top 20 in 2020. As a result, Europe remains one of the most attractive options for international investment and business start-ups.

Doing business in the EU gives you access to an unrestricted single market for imports and exports, skilled labour at fair prices, low trade costs and a single currency. All EU countries have extraordinary levels of economic and tax incentives for entrepreneurs at home and abroad, but here are the World Bank’s The following are the top EU countries in each category.

The top three European countries in each category, in descending order of score.

  • Ease of doing business:Denmark, Sweden and Lithuania.
  • Starting a business: Greece, Estonia and Ireland.
  • Taxation: Ireland, Denmark, Finland.

Based on these and other criteria, here are five countries to consider when setting up a company in the EU.


According to Forbes magazine’s list of «Best Countries for Doing Business», Sweden tops the list of sovereign EU countries. Its large and competitive free market economy and sophisticated mix of mature social systems make it a strong, rich and attractive investment destination, with an average GDP growth rate of 2.71 and the largest current account surplus in Europe, currently at 4 per cent of GDP. Investment in the construction sector is what stimulates the economy most, and foreign investment is most welcome. In fact, Sweden remains one of the main recipients of foreign investment. As the largest market in Scandinavia, Sweden can offer unique market opportunities … It can also offer companies world-class research facilities and well-developed infrastructures. The government plans to invest 56 billion euros in infrastructure development over the next 10 years.

Citizens from outside the EU/EEA (European Union or European Economic Area) who set up a business or company in Sweden must first obtain a residence permit in order to be able to reside legally in Sweden. As in other EU countries, a work permit is not required. To obtain a residence permit, you must prove that you own at least 50% of the business and that it is profitable and able to support you and your family. You must also demonstrate that you are experienced, qualified to run the business and that you have sufficient capital to get it off the ground. You will be required to submit a detailed business plan, which will be reviewed by the Immigration Department. If you are approved, you will be granted a two-year probationary residence permit.

setting up a business in europe sweden stockholm


The World Bank ranks Denmark first in Europe in terms of «ease of doing business». Its economic system is similar to that of neighbouring Sweden, with a market economy and strong social programmes. Despite its focus on social welfare, it is the seventh most pro-capital country in the world. In addition to the ease of entry for foreign investors, Denmark has some unique advantages in terms of human resources. Firstly, Denmark has a large number of multicultural professionals, most of whom speak English. Secondly, thanks to the flexibility of the country’s legislation, the hiring and firing process is very simple and avoids most of the bureaucratic procedures known in some Western countries. The infrastructure is also no less good than in Sweden. In specific areas, Denmark is one of the world’s leading centres for biotechnology and life sciences and a centre of innovation in the food industry. Moreover, many sectors remain attractive for investment, such as education, media and public transport. Low interest rates and stable economic growth encourage companies to develop, expand and open operations in Denmark.

setting up a business in europe denmark

Czech Republic

For start-ups, established companies and branches of established companies, the Czech Republic is a rising star. As a member of the European Union, the country is very well situated in the heart of Europe. It has one of the best transport networks in Central and Eastern Europe and is an important hub for transit, communication and connections between Europe and Western, Eastern and Central Europe. It also has one of the lowest tax rates in the Union. For companies, a one-off payment can reduce the one-off tax rate by 60%, with an effective tax rate of around 6-9%. Renting real or virtual offices is also cheap by world standards, with offices for rent in Prague being 90% cheaper than in Hong Kong. Finally, the Czech Republic has the lowest unemployment rate in Europe (1.91%). Many of the skilled workers are English-speaking employees, which can be a great advantage for the development of your business. LEAF has a long history of helping international companies enter new markets, and at COVID-19 we helped five start-ups enter Europe. The Czech Republic is an attractive investment destination because it has more choice and more room for expansion than Denmark or Sweden.

setting up a business in europe czech republic karlovy vary


The World Bank has named Ireland as the country with the most favourable tax regime in 2020. Companies also enjoy tax advantages, with a corporate tax rate of only 12.5%, one of the lowest in the EU. The combined corporate tax credit is 37.5%, which is an important incentive for start-ups. Enterprise Ireland, Ireland’s national economic development agency, invests in up to 200 export-oriented start-ups each year. It also has links with other Irish investors and can help establish relationships with them if necessary. Irish start-ups have access to experienced and technically advanced staff, a wide range of investors, research facilities and manufacturers and suppliers for all business needs. Food processing and exports, life sciences, gaming, information technology and finance are the main industries.Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ireland enjoyed strong growth, with GDP growth of 5.6% in 2019 and a decline of -2.3% projected for 2020. The Irish economy is expected to recover with GDP growth of 2.9% in 2021 and 2.6% in 2022.

setting up a business in europe ireland dublin


Lithuania is a very entrepreneurial country and is constantly looking for new ways to encourage foreign investors in order to increase its competitiveness in Western markets. Lithuania, the largest of the Baltic States, has emerged as a free market economy since the collapse of the Soviet Union and has experienced phenomenal growth in exports, wages, trade and investment.In 2019, Lithuania’s top five trading partners are Russia, Latvia, Poland, Germany and Estonia. The UK and the US are also among the top ten countries, and the USA is in the top ten. accounts for USD 1.23 billion of Lithuania’s exports. In 2020, Lithuania’s «ease of doing business» ranked third in the EU. In January of the same year, the Lithuanian government approved a proposal to exempt domestic and foreign-owned companies from corporate tax, provided they invest at least 30 million euros and create 200 jobs. One of the main reasons why Lithuania encourages foreign investment is that the government seeks to support companies that bring more jobs to Lithuanians. However, Lithuanians are highly skilled, often speak several languages and are very professional. Moreover, labour is relatively cheap, with a minimum wage of 607 euros per month.

setting up a business in europe lithuania vilnius old town

Other countries where to set up a business in Europe

As we do not know your business or interests, we have expanded the list and added other countries in the European Union where it could be very interesting to start a business, so that the climate or the landscape does not prevent you from finding your perfect place to start a business. That said, here is a list of other ideal countries for entrepreneurship in Europe.


In order to start a business or to work as a self-employed person, a foreigner must obtain a professional card, which is a qualification to exercise economic activities in Belgium. In order to obtain a permit, it may be necessary to provide proof of qualifications (relevant training, knowledge and experience) and to demonstrate success in the area of specialisation. You will also need to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to start up and sustain your business. If you want to set up a company or run your own business in Belgium, you must register with the Banque-Carrefour des Entreprises (BCE), the national commercial register for small and medium-sized enterprises and sole proprietors. There are several business centres (guichets d’entreprises), private consultancy firms authorised by the Belgian government, which can help you register your business with the ECB, obtain the necessary permits and tax identification numbers, and assist you with other issues related to setting up a business and self-employment.

setting up a business in europe belgium ghent


Foreigners wishing to set up a business in Germany can obtain a residence permit if there are priority economic interests and local demand, the activity is expected to have a positive impact on the economy and financing is guaranteed. Foreign entrepreneurs can obtain a permit if they can prove that their business is successful, that their livelihood is stable and that they have sufficient income to «retire» after 45 years.

setting up a business in europe germany berlin

The Netherlands

Self-employed persons and entrepreneurs do not need a work permit in the Netherlands, but they do need a residence permit (verlijf voor het verrichten van arbeid als zelfstandige) to work as self-employed persons. To obtain this permit, the self-employed person must prove that his or her self-employment makes a positive contribution to Dutch society and/or the Dutch economy.

Instead of a work permit, you must apply for a residence permit and prove your qualifications, your business plan, your start-up capital and your intention to be self-employed. To determine your eligibility for a residence permit as a self-employed person or entrepreneur, the Dutch Migration Board uses a point system and takes into account the contribution of your activity to the Netherlands. As a self-employed person or entrepreneur, you must register as such.

setting up a business in europe netherlands utrecht


Non-EU citizens who wish to be self-employed or set up their own business must obtain a residence card in order to be able to live and work legally in Spain. Your application for a residence card will be approved if you can prove that you have sufficient funds to start a business and that it can support you. He or she must also demonstrate that he or she is qualified to run the company.

setting up a business in europe spain barcelona

United Kingdom

If you open a business in the UK, you must have at least £200,000 to invest in the business, plus funds to support yourself and your family until the business is profitable. He or she must also control or have an equivalent shareholding in the company (in the case of a partnership), be employed full-time by the company and cannot claim government benefits or obtain employment while running the company. The UK also requires your company to create two new full-time jobs for UK residents or citizens.

setting up a business in europe united kingdom liverpool

Ranking of the best countries to set up a company in the EU

The data for the following rankings are derived from the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business score. Countries were selected in three categories: ease of doing business, ease of setting up a business and ease of paying taxes. All scores are calculated on a 100-point scale, with 100 being the highest score and 0 the lowest.

EU countriesEase of doing businessStarting a businessPaying taxes

EU tax rates

The data for the classification below is taken from Wikipedia’s «Tax rates in Europe», where EU countries are listed in alphabetical order in three categories: corporate tax, top income tax rate and standard VAT rate. The five European countries with the lowest tax rates are (in order) Hungary, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland and Lithuania.

EU countryCorporate income taxThe maximum income tax rateStandard VAT rate
Austria25%55%20% (Reduced rates 10% + 13%)
Belgium29% (25% from 2020. For SMEs 20% from 2018 onwards on the first 100,000 euros of profit).50% (excluding the 13.07% of social security paid by the employee and excluding also the 32% of social security paid by the employer)21% (Reduced rates of 6% and 12%)
Bulgaria10%10% (additional 12.9% from the employee for social security contributions, i.e. health insurance, pension and unemployment fund); and an additional 17.9% from the employer for various social security contributions).20% (Reduced rates 9%)
Croatia18% (reduced rate of 12% for small businesses)40% (excluding 35.2% of the total amount of insurance levied on income)25% (Reduced rates 13% + 5%)(Reduced rates 9%)
Cyprus12.5%35%19% (Reduced rates 5% + 9%)(Reduced rates 9%)
Czech Republic19%53,5 % (15 % income tax + 6,5 % employee + 25 % employer (2,3 % health care + 21,5 % social security + 1,2 % state employment policy) + 7 % solidarity contribution (assuming income of more than CZK 1 277 328 per year)21% (reduced rates of 15% and 10%)
Denmark22%51.95% (including 8% social security paid by the employee, but excluding the 0.42-1.48% church tax levied on members of the National Church of Denmark)25% (reduced rate 0% on passenger transport and newspapers which normally publish more than one issue per month)
Estonia20% CIT on the distributed profit. 14% of the regular distribution. 0% on undistributed profits.20% (+ 2.4% unemployment insurance tax, 0.8% paid by the employer, 1.6% paid by the employee and 33% social security which is paid before gross salary by the employer) about 57.8% in total20% (reduced rate of 9%)
Finland20%From 25% to 67% depending on net income and municipality, including 7.8% of social security contributions, the employee’s unemployment payment and the employer’s unemployment payment, which is on average 18% (2018).24% (reduced rate of 14% for groceries and restaurants, 10% for books, medicines, passenger transport and some others)
France30% (including social contributions) after 2018 («PFU»), before: 33.3% (36.6% above €3.5m, 15% below €38k).49% (45% +4% for annual income above EUR 250,000 for single taxpayers or above EUR 500,000 for married couples) + social security taxes and social contributions at various rates, e.g. 17.2% for capital gains, interest and dividends.20% (reduced rate of 10%, 5.5%, 2.1% and 0% for specific cases such as some foodstuffs, transport, cultural goods, etc.)
GermanyFrom 22.825% (in some small towns) to 32.925% (in Munich), depending on the municipality. This includes the 15% CIT, the 5.5% solidarity surcharge plus the trade tax payable to the municipality.47.475%, which includes 45% income tax and a 5.5% solidarity surcharge on the total tax bill for income above 256,304 euros. El tipo impositivo de entrada es del 14% para los ingresos superiores al umbral básico anual de 9.000 euros.19% (a reduced rate of 7% applies, e.g. on the sale of certain foodstuffs, books and magazines, flowers, transport)
Greece28%65,67% (45% for >40.000€+ 7,5% Solidarity Tax for >40000€)+(26,95% Social Security for employees or up to 47,95% for private professionals)24% (Reduced rates 13% and 5%)
Hungary9%33.5% Employee’s expenses as a whole of gross salary without children: 15% Income Tax (lump sum), Social Security: 10% Pension, 3% in cash + 4% in kind Health Care, 1.5% Labour ContributionsEmployer: 17.5% Social Tax, 1.5% Labour Contribution of gross monthly salary27% (Reduced rates 18% and 5%)
Ireland12.5% for commercial revenues25% for non-commercial revenues40% from 34,550 euros for single taxpayers, 42,800 euros for married taxpayers, plus USC (Universal Social Charge) 4.5% on income up to 50,170 euros and 8% on the rest. Social security 4%.23%
Italy27.9% (24% plus 3.9% municipal)45.83% (43% income tax + 2.03% regional income tax + 0.8% municipal income tax)22% (Reduced rates 10%, 5%, 4%)
Latvia20% CIT on distributed profits. 0% on undistributed profits. 15% on small businesses20%(income tax) 35.09%(social security) Total up to 55.09% Total up to 55.09% (income tax) 35.09%(social security)21% (reduced rates 12% and 0%)
Lithuania15% (5% for small businesses)44.27% (effective tax rates: 34.27% social insurance (nominally 1.77% employer’s pay + 19.5% employee’s pay + 1.8% to 3% optional accrual of pence), 20% income21% (Reduced rates 5%, 9%)
Luxembourg24.94% (commercial activity); 5.718% on intellectual property income, royalties.43.6% (40% income tax + 9% solidarity surcharge calculated on income tax)17% (Reduced rates 3%, 8%, 14%)
Malta35% (6/7 or 5/7 tax refunds gives an effective rate of 5% or 10% for most businesses)35% (additional 10% from the employee for social security contributions, i.e. health insurance, pension and education); and an additional 10% from the employer for miscellaneous social security contributions).18% (Reduced rates of 5%, 7% and 0% for necessities of life – groceries, water, prescription drugs, medical equipment and supplies, public transport, children’s education expenses)
Netherlands25% above 200,000 euros profit, otherwise 16.5%.49.5% (excluding income bracket discount for incomes up to 98,604 euros)21% (reduced rate of 9% and 0% for some goods and services)
Poland19% (reduced rate 9% for small businesses from 01.01.2019)17% up to 85 528 zł (from 1.10.2019)32% above 85 528 zł (~20 000 euros)23% (reduced rates of 5% and 8%)
Portugal21% + 3 to 9% depending on profit48% + 5% solidarity surcharge + 11% social security (to be paid by the employee) + 23.75% (social security to be paid by the company)23% (reduced rates 13% and 6%)
RomaniaRevenues 1 million euros: 16% of profitEmployee: 41.5% [10% income tax (on gross less pension and health deductions), 25% pension contribution (on gross), 10% health contribution (on gross)]. – Gross income of less than RON 3,600 benefits from personal deductions of up to RON 1,310 of taxable income.Employer: 2.25% (compulsory employment insurance).19% (reduced rates of 9% and 5%)
Slovakia21% 50% (income tax 19% + 25% for the part of the annual income above 35,022.31 euros; additional contributions at 4% for the employee’s compulsory health insurance and 10% for the employer’s, 9.4% for the employee’s and 25.2% for the employer’s social security)20% (reduced rate of 10%)
Slovenia19%50%22% (reduced rate 9.5%) – as of 1 July 2013
Spain25% (4% in the Canary Islands ) Maximum income tax rate of 45%. Excluding workers’ contributions of 6.35% of social security, 4.7% of pension contributions, 1.55% of unemployment tax and 0.1% of workers’ training tax. Excluding employer’s social security contributions of 23.6%, 5.5% unemployment tax, 3.5% (or more) tax on employee contributions, 0.06% tax on employee training and 0.2% FOGASA tax (employment tax in case of company bankruptcy).21% (reduced rates 10% and 4%)
Sweden22% (21.4% 2019, 20.6% 2021)55.5% including social security paid by the employer25% (reduced rates 12% and 6%)

Data extracted from tax rates in Europe

The right company structure: the right law: incorporating in Europe

Canal empresas tiene una amplia experiencia en la asistencia a empresas internacionales para establecer o ampliar sus operaciones en Europa. Below is a list of organisations to consider when setting up a company in the EU. Our experience is extensive and we can help you with all of them. More than ever, it may be in your interest to do so at a distance. Once your company is established, you can use our online platform to manage all your business processes locally from anywhere in the world.

Limited companies are beneficial for small and medium-sized enterprises. The minimum capital requirement is €1 nominal and the owner must have at least one shareholder and one authorised manager (who may be foreign).

The Societas Europaea (SE) is a type of limited liability company, suitable for small and medium-sized enterprises. The advantage is that it allows companies to operate under the same principles in different European countries. This makes it easy to relocate the company to another European country.

Corporations are ideal for large companies. In this case, the minimum capital must be SEK 2 million. At the time of incorporation, the owners are obliged to repay at least 30 % of this amount. However, investors are only responsible for their contribution to the creation of the company.

A representative office (liaison office) can operate a limited number of offices in the new country. As such, a representative office has no legal personality and cannot engage in direct commercial activities. A locally responsible person should be appointed to represent the interests of the parent company and to carry out the relevant functions.

Branch offices are a suitable option for those who wish to expand an existing business into new markets. However, it should be noted that in most European countries, a branch office does not provide legal status to the company. Una sucursal puede seguir haciendo negocios de la misma manera que la empresa matriz, una vez que se ha nombrado un director local.

Corporate welfare

The EU offers a range of incentives for economic development, most of which vary from region to region. In Poland, for example, «special economic zones» have been created to attract foreign investors and impressive tax breaks for companies. Research tax regimes adopted in several European countries provide significant tax incentives for various research-related expenditures. Similarly, in the Czech Republic, investors can obtain a five-year property tax exemption and a ten-year corporate tax exemption.

However, there are strict rules on how much local support a country can provide, as EU state aid law prohibits subsidies to private companies that restrict free competition During the COVID period, all Member States increased social support packages for companies, including substantial workers’ compensation and tax incentives. For example, the Czech Republic introduced interest-free loans of up to SEK 15 million for SMEs that have lost contracts.

Labour market regulation in Europe
The EU has a friendly labour market that ensures the most efficient functioning and distribution of workers. Employment growth is more stable and positive than in the US, with more young professionals aged 15-25 (15.3% in the EU and 14.1% in the US).

If you hire someone in the EU, you must meet the minimum requirements set out in the EU Staff Regulations. They can be full-time, part-time, fixed-term or temporary contracts. If you hire an employee, you must give written notice of the terms and conditions of employment between one day and two months (depending on the country) before starting work. The procurement procedure must comply with the non-discrimination rules laid down by the EU. All workers must be at least 15 years old (age limits vary from country to country). Young people aged 15 to 18 can work 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week. There are also mass redundancies, which are considered collective redundancies (depending on the size of your company) – Canal Empresas can help you throughout the process of finding and hiring the right people for your business.

Social and health protection in the EU

In the EU, social security rules vary from country to country, but the EU ensures that insurance for all citizens is valid in all EU Member States (including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and the UK). General rules include.

Each citizen only pays contributions to one EU country. However, this does not apply to countries such as the US, where citizens have to pay taxes on their worldwide income, regardless of the country in which they live or work.
All residents have the same rights as citizens of the country in which they are insured.
All nationals are guaranteed that the period of time they were insured, worked or lived in another country in the past will be taken into account when claiming benefits.
As a general rule, a national can claim cash benefits in one country even if he/she is resident in another.

Starting a business in Europe: which countries and cities are the best?

Is it easy to set up a company?

Several major international organisations, such as the World Bank, regularly assess the economic environment in countries around the world as favourable. The World Bank’s Business Environment Index is an objective measure of business regulation and enforcement in 190 selected countries and cities around the world. The report covers several important criteria for doing business, such as setting up a company, construction, hiring employees, registering property, granting credit, paying taxes, trading across borders and enforcing contracts.

According to the World Bank’s 2018 report, the top-ranked countries are in Europe.

  • Denmark (3rd)
  • Norway (7th)
  • United Kingdom (9th)
  • Sweden (12th)
  • Finland (17th)

Other major European countries are slightly below.

  • Ireland (23rd)
  • Germany (24th)
  • Austria (26th)
  • Spain (30th)
  • France (32nd)
  • Poland (33rd)
  • Czech Republic (34th)
  • Portugal (36th)
  • Switzerland (38th)
  • Switzerland (45th)
  • Italy (51st)

How competitive is the business environment?

Another commonly used indicator is the Global Competitiveness Report (GCR), published annually by the World Economic Forum. According to the Global Competitiveness Report’s own definition, it «helps to identify barriers to growth and thus to encourage the development of appropriate strategies to achieve sustainable economic development». ……. It is the most comprehensive and authoritative assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of national economies used by governments, academics and business». Overall, European countries rank highly, although not all have maintained their ranking compared to last year. The «Key Country Characteristics» section of the report provides an overview of the strengths of each country’s economy. For example, Sweden, Finland and Denmark are among the top 17 countries in terms of macroeconomic stability, with healthy budget surpluses and low levels of public debt. On the other hand, Germany ranks first in terms of the quality of infrastructure, especially transport and communications. France is also renowned for its excellent infrastructure, especially in transport, communications and energy.

Economic freedom

The politically very conservative Index of Economic Freedom is a 10-point economic index published annually by the Heritage Foundation. It states that «economic freedom is the fundamental right of each individual to control his or her own labour and property». In an economically free society, people are free to work, produce, consume and invest. In an economically free society, government permits the free movement of labour, capital and goods and avoids coercion and restrictions on freedom beyond what is necessary to protect and maintain freedom itself. Based on this definition and 10 key criteria (such as freedom of enterprise, freedom of trade, freedom of currency and property rights), the authors of the report ranked 186 countries. Surprisingly, the highest ranked European country is Switzerland (4th), followed by Ireland (6th) and the United Kingdom (7th), with only European countries in the top 10 (interestingly, Canada and the United States rank 8th and 12th respectively).

Corruption, corrupt practices, organised crime and other vices

In many European countries, corruption is an integral part of doing business. However, most European countries have low or moderate levels of corruption and it is not a major obstacle to doing business.

Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is a useful tool for measuring the impact of corruption on daily life, politics and the economy in 180 countries. The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is a «survey of surveys» based on 13 different expert assessments and a survey of business people.

The 2019 rankings show that the Nordic and Central European countries as a whole have very low corruption ratings according to the impartial CPI.

  • Denmark (1st place)
  • Finland (3rd)
  • Sweden (4th)
  • Switzerland (4th)
  • Norway (7th)
  • Netherlands (8th)
  • Luxembourg (9th)
  • Germany (9th)
  • Iceland (11th)
  • United Kingdom (12th – draw)
  • Austria (12th – draw)
  • Belgium (17th)
  • Ireland (18th)
  • France (23rd)

Meanwhile, the southern European countries where corruption will prevail in 2019, according to the report, are.

  • Portugal (30th)
  • Spain (30th)
  • Cyprus (41st)
  • Malta (50th)
  • Italy (51st)

Several countries in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe also rank relatively low on the report’s corruption index.

  • Estonia (18th)
  • Poland (41st)
  • Slovenia (35th)
  • Lithuania (35th)
  • Latvia (44th)
  • Czech Republic (44th)
  • Slovakia (59th)
  • Greece (60th)
  • Croatia (63rd)
  • Montenegro (66th)
  • Romania (70th)
  • Hungary (70th)
  • Armenia (76th)
  • Turkey (91st)
  • Serbia (91st)

It is also interesting to note that some of the former Soviet republics of Eastern Europe have, according to independent reports, the highest corruption rates in the world.

  • Belarus (70th)
  • Bulgaria (74th)
  • Kosovo (101st-tie)
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina (101st-tie)
  • North Macedonia (104th)
  • Albania (106th)
  • Ukraine (126th – draw)
  • Kirguizistán (126th – tie)
  • Russia (137th)
  • Turkmenistan (165th)

Europe’s major trading cities

Cushman & Wakefield, a privately owned commercial real estate services company, publishes the annual European City Monitor, a survey of Europe’s leading business cities, based on data and rankings of Europe’s top 500 companies. The survey focuses on the themes of «Best Cities for Business» and «Best Cities for Business Today», with a range of criteria including quality of life, communications, market access, availability and quality of staff, cost of office space and transport. London has maintained its top position since the survey began in 1990. These are the top 10 European cities for business.

  1. London
  2. Paris
  3. Amsterdam
  4. Berlin
  5. Frankfurt
  6. Copenhagen
  7. Munich
  8. Dublin
  9. Milan
  10. Vienna

Notably, Prague and Warsaw have risen steadily in the rankings since joining the EU and are ranked 21st and 23rd respectively in the latest survey. According to Cushman & Wakefield, Warsaw is expected to receive the largest influx of companies in the next five years, making it a popular alternative to Moscow. However, it is not only the overall ranking that is important, but also the individual categories of which it forms part. Among European capitals, Warsaw ranks first in terms of skilled workers, low costs, availability of office space and positive business environment from the government. London, by contrast, leads the European business world, but ranks lower in terms of labour costs, office space costs and pollution levels (from European Cities Monitor).

European SMEs and start-ups

However, it should be noted that while London, Paris and Frankfurt may be attractive for large European companies, they are not necessarily important for SMEs and start-ups. It is important to determine what your company or business needs before relying on the research presented in this article.

For more information on specific countries, see the US Department of Commerce website. ( has country-specific sections and also provides country-specific trade guides detailing the business and investment environment in European countries. These guides are a valuable source of information for those considering expansion into other countries and provide a detailed overview of the market, as well as detailed information on market challenges, market opportunities and market entry strategies.

If you need more analysis and information about a country and are willing to pay for it, go to the website of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a research and consulting firm that provides analysis of countries, industries and management around the world. It provides monthly country reports, five-year economic forecasts for specific countries, country risk reports, sector-specific reports, etc. The EIU also conducts in-depth research for companies requiring analysis of specific markets or business sectors.

In conclusion

The European market is a safe, promising and attractive option for starting a business. With many countries to choose from and access to the European single market, you can’t go wrong with Europe as an investment destination. Contact Canal Empresa to discuss your next move.

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