Why you should setup your company in Europe
At the heart of international trade and with a highly developed domestic market, the continent of Europe is rather attractive for foreign investors. The EU-27 alone had a gross domestic product (GDP) of $15,193 billion in 2020 (13,315 billion euros according to Eurostat).
These figures make it the second largest economic power in the world. The EU represents 17.9% of global GDP, behind the United States (24.7%) but ahead of China (17.4%) and Japan (6.0%). The quality of its logistics infrastructures, the high level of workforce training and dense transport networks make the continent a popular destination for many project leaders seeking a healthy economic environment.
What are the main advantages of setting up or creating a business in Europe today? Which country should you choose?
Europe, an increasingly acclaimed market
The European continent–and more specifically, the 27 countries of the European Union–has no shortage of strong points to convince foreign entrepreneurs.
Comprising a total of 19 Member States, the Eurozone offers a high degree of monetary stability and provides security for international goods traders, who are concerned about the exchange rate against the dollar or the yuan. The 26 European countries of the Schengen Area, on the other hand, form a huge territory guaranteeing the free movement of goods and people across national borders.
A crossroads for global business, the EU generated 3,646 billion euros in trade with its overseas partners in 2020 (imports and exports combined). Its domestic market also does a significant volume of business: trade within the European single market amounted to 2,845 billion euros in 2020.
Boxed text: Economic buoyancy recovered after the 2008 crisis
The fallout from the economic and financial crisis of 2008 led to slowed activity in the European Union, with unemployment rising to 11.4% in 2013 (12% for the Eurozone). The labour market has since become very dynamic again, with the unemployment rate falling to just 6.7% in 2019, before the health crisis.
Where to invest in Europe?
The World Bank’s “Doing Business” ranking provides information on the most suitable European countries in which to set up a business. It can provide insight for the initial reflections of non-European project leaders wishing to organise the international expansion of their company.
The ranking has the advantage of taking numerous parameters into account, including:
- The quality of human resources
- The sources of funding available
- The tax legislation (average tax rate and administrative complexity)
- Logistics infrastructure
- Transport networks
- The quality of the various business services
1 – Denmark
The World Bank rates Denmark as the best country in the world for cross-border trade. The country owes this appraisal to its central geographical location, at the gateway to Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea. Its advantageous tax and regulatory framework should also be highlighted, despite a relatively high rate of tax.
Furthermore, Denmark has other benefits to offer. It ranks fourth in the world in terms of land, in particular issuing planning permission. This provides tangible security for companies that need a large footprint to develop their business.
Lastly, the country is renowned for its quality of life and extremely high rating on the Human Development Index (HDI). In the eyes of foreign investors, this is a clear contribution to its appeal.
2 – Georgia
Right in the heart of Caucasia, Georgia is a natural commercial hub between Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Although the country is located well beyond the borders of the European Union and the Schengen Area, it stands out for several reasons in the eyes of the World Bank. It reaches, respectively:
- Second in the world in terms of ease of starting a business
- Fourth in the world for registering real estate and property rights
- Eighth in the world for contract performance security
3 – The Netherlands
The Netherlands is especially committed to helping companies set up and to receiving foreign investment via the Startup Delta initiative, a cluster of companies, public administration bodies and research and development centres.
The Dutch economic environment also stands out because of its high quality human resources and its widespread command of the English language: more than 90% of the active population speak it fluently enough to use it as a working language.
Superfast broadband Internet is available almost everywhere. Finally, the country is a real logistical gateway to the continent of Europe with high-level infrastructures such as the commercial port of Rotterdam or Schiphol airport.
4 – The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is the 6th largest global economic power and the international financial centre of London is a particularly distinguishing feature. The country continues to attract entrepreneurs from overseas in their droves, with a total of 975 foreign investment projects in 2020.
Brexit, the country’s recent departure from the EU and the European Common Market, is causing some investors to exercise caution and to postpone their plans for setting up operations there.
5 – France
In 2020, France was home to 985 foreign investment projects. Therefore, the country remains the number one European destination for business expansion project leaders.
France also has the second largest domestic market in Europe with more than 67 million consumers. Furthermore, 89% of directors of international businesses established in France mention the size of the domestic market as a determining criteria in their business plan.
Open on several maritime fronts (Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean, the English Channel and North Sea, etc), the country stands out for the quality of its infrastructures, including:
The region of Hauts-de-France with Maritime Flanders is a particularly popular location for entrepreneurs to expand their businesses. At the crossroads of Benelux, Germany and the United Kingdom, also known as the acclaimed European “Blue Banana”, the region benefits from the densest trade flows in the whole continent.
Dunkirk, the crossroads of Europe
The region of Dunkirk is a major economic hub in Maritime Flanders. A true cross-border territory, the city borders with Belgium and faces England. It is ideally located to serve Northern Europe’s markets, among others.
Are you planning on setting up a company or opening a subsidiary in Maritime Flanders near Dunkirk? The main advantages of this sector include:
- The third largest port and largest port complex in France, with 52.6 million tonnes of goods passing in 2019
- A strategic location at the centre of the Paris-Brussels-London triangle, making it a real European crossroads.
- High quality transport infrastructures (motorways, rail, river, etc.)
- Extensive land availability with serviced sites and turnkey buildings
- Support and tax reduction systems for business start-ups and expansions (Saint-Pol-sur-Mer special tax concession zone, priority areas of the city, 0% interest loan from the Greater Dunkirk Urban Council …).
With their perfect knowledge of the territory and the constraints of the local tax system, an on-site intermediary can help to optimise the success of a business expansion project in the Hauts-de-France area.
Since its establishment in 1992, Dunkerque Promotion has supported over 2,400 companies, including 435 business expansion projects. Our economic development agency provides you with a wide range of free support services to help your project succeed, including:
- Searching for expansion solutions (property, land, takeover, etc.)
- General advice and information concerning the region and the territory
- Sources of public and private funding
- Interface with public authorities
- Business network integration and local partners
- Help with recruitment and training
- Project follow-up after expansion
- Assistance with obtaining public contracts, etc.
Dunkerque Promotion will be right by your side to help expand your business at the heart of the continent of Europe.
Three key points to remember:
- The continent of Europe is very attractive for overseas entrepreneurs, particularly because of its economic dynamism and the size of its domestic market.
- Denmark, Georgia but also the Netherlands and France sit at the top of the ranking of the most welcoming European countries for investors.
- The Hauts-de-France region and Dunkirk offer many advantages for expanding your business or company with ease.