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13th Apr 2024

Denmark and UK rank top in EU for doing business

  • Copenhagen: By contrast, achieving a construction permit in Croatia requires 21 steps and takes 188 days (Photo: Johannes Jansson/norden.org)

Half of the 20 countries in the world where it is easiest to do business are European, according to a report by the World Bank Group.

On Wednesday (29 October), the financial institution published its 12th edition of the Doing Business survey, an annual report that lists economies by ease of doing business.

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Seven listings in the top 20 are for EU members Denmark (4), United Kingdom (8), Finland (9), Sweden (11), Ireland (13), Germany (14), and Estonia (17).

Non-EU European countries Norway (6), Iceland (12), and Switzerland (20) also did well, while Singapore remains at the top of the ranking.

The rankings are based mostly on the laws and regulations of the researched countries, and less so on reported practice.

In the period concerned (June 1, 2013 to June 1, 2014), the researchers found 230 reforms in 123 countries.

“More than 63 percent of these reforms reduced the complexity and cost of regulatory processes, while the others strengthened legal institutions.”

The research did not cover factors like corruption, security, and market size.

In the foreword to the report, Kaushik Basu, senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank, acknowledges that the report has a “deliberately narrow” focus and that “an economy has many more aspects than the features that are tracked and measured by the Doing Business report”.

Basu writes “there is no such thing as the best, all-encompassing indicator” and adds that the World Bank is “aware that we still have some distance to go in our understanding of an economy”.

The lowest ranking European country on the list of 189 countries is potential EU candidate Bosnia at 107, although the country's business environment improved compared to last year.

Malta is the lowest ranked EU country at 94, down four spots in the ranking but performing better in absolute terms than last year.

It remains slightly behind EU candidate Serbia (91) and potential candidate Kosovo (75).

The report also looks at sub-indicators.

Getting electricity is relatively easy in Germany, which at place three is outperformed only by South Korea and Taiwan. Switzerland (5), Sweden (7), and Iceland (9) are not far behind.

Registering a property is relatively easy in Belarus (3), Norway (5), Denmark (8), Lithuania (9), and Slovakia (10). But it is one of the hardest tasks for a new business in Belgium, which ranks near the bottom at 171.

It takes on average 64 days to register a property in Belgium – the average among the highly developed members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, an economic club based in Paris, is 24.

Dealing with construction permits is particularly challenging in Bosnia (182), and Croatia (178).

Achieving such a permit in Croatia requires 21 steps and takes 188 days.

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