How to find the best EU business base?
If you are running a small or medium sized enterprise in the UK you now have the chance to bypass post-Brexit trade barriers by establishing a EU business base. EU legislation allows you to establish and run a company without actually being there in person. If you think this concept does not apply to your business model, simply read ‘How to bypass EU trade barriers‘ and think again.
What are the best EU countries for my business?
Some selection criteria will be specific to your business model, others apply generally. Let’s start with the latter:
• Does the country provide stability and legal certainty?
• What is the level of corruption/organised crime?
• Language barrier: Is English widely spoken?
• Cultural barriers: Spoken and written communication aside, can you identify
with local ethics and moral principles?
• Working times: Do the daily working hours and holidays harmonise with the UK?
• How easy/quick and costly is it to get there?
• Are there bilateral tax agreements in place with the UK (i.e. a double-taxation treaty)?
• Is it among the few EU countries offering VAT deferment (to increase your investment capital)?
What are the specifics of my business?
• Do I sell goods or services?
• IP rights: Are there any trademarks in the way?
• Is there a good infrastructure (for traffic and technology)?
• Geographical position: Is it a good distribution hub for your markets?
• Are there sufficient professional service providers?
• Could potential competition become a problem?
• Do my products have a limited shelf live or need just-in-time delivery?
Distilling the best business locations
By applying these questions you will be able to filter out the best choices from the 27 EU countries. If you end up with more than one country, distill the result further with a) more questions relating to your business/situation and/or b) seek expert advice for a more refined selection process. Once you have found the ideal country, apply the same process for the best region or city.
Many countries and regions try to attract businesses with low cost of labour, properties, rates etc. – down to generous tax reliefs. A word of advice: Look for a well-established, professional environment, even if it looks more costly at first glance. Draw up a detailed business plan with the help of professional consultants/tax advisors. If the projected profits are well in your comfort zone, start it there. You can then grow your business free of worries. Once your operation has become a success story, you can still choose to expand into a more exotic location.
Marcus Broix, Trade with Europe Ltd