Feature

The UK has been revealed as the best European country to start a business, according to new research.

Using World Bank data, the study from Tide looked at national performance indicators for 28 European countries, including GDP, tax revenue, unemployment rates and the practicalities of starting a company.

It then turned these reports into rankings and compiled everything together to assess which countries are most inviting overall.

Thanks to the its large economy, low unemployment rate, and ease to start and run a business, the UK ranks number one. The UK also topped the list of countries with the lowest cost of starting a business. 

“The truth is that the UK is objectively a good place to do business,” said Kerstin Reichert of Tide.

“It has a large economy, low unemployment, and it’s easy to start and run a business here. The UK topped the cost of starting a business criteria – tied with Slovenia – and also does a good job in a range of categories to earn the top spot.”

However bad weather, British culture, political climate and myriad other factors not represented in the data may push future business owners to consider opening up shop in other countries instead.

Ireland is the top contender for UK business owners wishing to start up abroad. Pairing its strong economy with reasonable tax rates and ease of starting and running a business, Ireland ranked second overall in the study. 

“Ireland is another top contender, pairing its strong economy with reasonable tax rates,” said Reichert. “Ireland also does well in the rankings for ease of starting and running a business, with a middling performance in the gender pay gap chart.”

The Netherlands followed in third place, thanks to a combination of simplicity of starting a company and very low unemployment rate, followed closely by Denmark and Estonia

RankCountryGDP 2019 (£)Unemploy-ment rate (%)Time to start a business (days)New business densityEase of doing business (/100)Gender pay gap (%)
1UK2.8tr3.85515.68417.3
2Ireland388bn4.93117.18011.3
3Netherlands909bn3.246.47614.6
4Denmark348bn4.914108514
5Estonia31bn5.11423.68121.7
6Sweden530bn6.4887.28211.8
7France2.7tr8.4344.87716.5
8Slovenia53bn4.283.1777.9
9Lithuania54bn6.3563.38213.3
10Romania250bn3.98207.3733.3

“The biggest surprise at the top of our table is Estonia, which landed in fifth place after a strong showing in many different categories, including the ease of doing business in this former Soviet republic,” added Reichert.

“Also, Estonia is the first place to offer e-Residency – this means that anyone can base their business and finances in the country – which may have potentially caused an influx of new businesses being created there. 

“Advantages as an e-resident include having full access to Estonia’s advanced digital infrastructure and the same rights in business as Estonian citizens.”

Luxembourg has the narrowest gender pay gap of the countries studied, while Germany is the leader in the GDP category – as it has a bigger economy with more activity, providing a larger potential market – and the Czech Republic has the lowest unemployment rate.