Where to start a business in Europe

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If your quest for new business prospects leads you to Europe, you're probably wondering about the countries where you're likely to thrive. The European Chamber released its yearly ranking of best European countries for business according to many criteria such as incentives for foreign investors and entrepreneurs, as well as integrity and transparency. To help you choose wisely, Expat.com gives you an insight into the top five European countries to invest or launch your startup in.

Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark
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As the most attractive country for foreign investment and entrepreneurship, Denmark heavily depends on international trade and cooperation. Denmark is, in fact, a high income and competitive country with a population of 5.7 million. With a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, the country has been encouraging its citizens to set up their own business while attracting more and more foreign investors. By choosing Denmark, your business will benefit from a widely developed infrastructure, connectivity, and high technology along with a flexible and efficient workforce. Danes are known for being a skilled, educated, motivated, and productive nation.

Furthermore, nationals of Nordic countries and the European Union and European Economic Area do not need a work permit or resident permit to set up a business in Denmark. For those coming from other countries, relating formalities remain quite simple and straightforward. Overall, Denmark is known for its transparent and favourable business climate thanks to its economic and political stability, and a low corporate tax rate (22%).

Norway

Olso, Norway
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Norway comes up second thanks to numerous business incentives. As a modern and developed country, Norway has a robust and competitive economy due to the strong public and private cooperation. It can also boast of its political stability and transparency at all levels. Over the past decade, Norway has received a significant amount of foreign investment compared to other European countries. Even though Norway is not part of the European Union, it can still benefit from the European market thanks to an EEA agreement. Norway has always been a great place to start a business in thanks to its immense natural resources including oil and gas, as well as its marine resources. Various business prospects are available in the fields of emerging industries (medical and biotechnology), finance, IT, and knowledge-based services. Today, the country hosts over 6,000 foreign limited companies with branches all across its territory. Like other Nordic countries, Norway has an extensive infrastructure and a highly educated and skilled workforce which can be a real asset to foreign businesses.

Finland

Helsinki, Finland
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Like all Nordic countries, Finland is also in the top ten European countries to set up a business in. Finland is a politically stable country with a reliable and secure regulatory framework, and has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in Europe (20%). Those looking to invest in Finland will benefit from highly transparent business climate. Finland is indeed one of the world's least corrupt countries. Making innovation one of its priorities, Finland stands out as one of the world's most competitive countries, ahead of its Scandinavian neighbours, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. With a modern and sophisticated infrastructure and a highly skilled workforce, the country also specialised in research and development. By setting up your business in Finland, you will benefit from a range of incentives, including straightforward formalities.

Sweden

Malmo, Sweden
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Small in size, Sweden is one of the European countries having received the most foreign investment during the past few years. Sweden can boast not only of its strong international relations but also of its highly educated and skilled workforce, and advanced technology. Sweden has one of the lowest corporates taxes in Europe and provides a simple framework for those looking to set up a business there. Focusing on innovation and new technologies, the country has a very competitive economy. Large multinationals are complemented by a dynamic startup ecosystem. As a member of the EU, Sweden grants access to European and Nordic markets with over 510 million consumers. Sweden also stands out for its social and political stability, excellent infrastructure and well-performing banking system. It's also worth noting that Swedish companies benefit from a close collaboration with research institutions to better assess the growing market needs. As a high-income country with immense wealth and public reserves, Sweden has a relatively low unemployment rate compared to other European countries.

UK

London, UK
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Remaining an attractive destination for foreign investors and entrepreneurs, the UK ranks 5th this year in spite of uncertainties brought about by Brexit negotiations. Thanks to incentives provided by local authorities, the UK remains one of the best countries in the world to set up a business in. The UK continues to enjoy access to international markets with over 500 million consumers throughout Europe only. Having signed non-double taxation agreements with many countries, the UK has a flexible tax system with a corporate tax rate of 20%. Furthermore, companies benefit from a 20% value-added tax on goods and services. Needless to say that the UK has a widely developed and continuously improving infrastructure, especially in the fields of energy, transportation, telecommunications, and waste management. While the UK offers many business prospects, it can also boast of its workforce growth over the next 15 years.