Doing business in Greece and Slovakia most complex in Europe

28 June 2019 3 min. read

A number of European countries rank according to a new study among the globe’s most complex places to do business. Greece tops the list, with Slovakia, Germany and Turkey all featuring in the top ten.

“More than ever, businesses with global ambitions must have a good understanding of the rules and regulations that prevail locally, and how to manage them,” said Mark Weil, CEO of TMF Group, a provider of administrative services. The company annually conducts in-depth research into business complexity across 76 jurisdictions, taking into account aspects such as the accounting and tax landscape, regulations, and hiring, firing and paying employees. 

With a population of approximately 11 million, Mediterranean country Greece is pinpointed as the world’s most complex business jurisdiction for entrepreneurs and companies, due to “inconsistent treatment of firms by the authorities, differing regional tax rates and frequently changing legislation.” 

Overall, Europe is one of the poorer performing continents, home to nine of the top twenty. Slovakia, Germany and Turkey hold the spots between sixth and eight, trailing two South American countries (Brazil and Bolivia), the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East, and second placed Indonesia. France ranks twelfth, with Ukraine, Belgium, Portugal and Spain completing Europe’s presence in the wrong part of the list.Business in Greece and Slovakia among the most complex globallyIt is however not all bad news for Europe. The three easiest places to do business are the Cayman Islands, Curaçao and Jersey, islands part of the UK and Netherlands. The trio of countries are found to thrive on the back of politically-stable and pro-business policies. The Netherlands, Denmark and Switzerland also rank among the ten easiest places to do business.

The analysis illustrates Europe’s diverse economic landscape, hosting some of the most complex and unpredictable places to operate in but also those that makes life as easy as possible. Other notable European countries rank 21st (Poland), 24th (Italy), 29th (Serbia), 32nd (Slovenia), 33rd (Ireland), 34th (Norway), 44th (Russia), 45th (Austria), 47th (Finland), 53rd (Romania), 54th (Cyprus), 55th (Sweden) and 57th (Hungary).

Meanwhile, economic superpowers the US and China rank as polar opposites. The United States is deemed the eleventh least complex jurisdiction worldwide, due to its relatively straightforward regulatory standards and recent tax reforms making it easier for firms to repatriate profits. Although China has pushed for more pro-business policies, the country ranks in the top ten. However, the country’s international investment climate is expected to improve in the coming years on the back of recently adopted legislative changes. 

Across the board, in over a third of countries analysed, local rules, regulations and penalty systems have been identified as major bottlenecks for companies. However, “complexity is no reason to avoid investing. It is a dimension which must be managed. With the right local knowledge and preparation, good companies can thrive anywhere,” concluded Weil.