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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

Start-up procedures: progress in 2007

Building on the discussions and conclusions of the "Workshop on start-up procedures" of November 2006, and after consultation with relevant parties, the Commission launched two actions to support Member States comply with the 2006 Spring Council conclusions:

  • It created a document to establish a clearer definition of what is to be looked at when assessing start-up times, costs and one-stop shops in the context of the Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs: Staff Working Document SEC(2007)129 pdf - 164 KB [164 KB]  
  • It included "start-ups" as one of the focus areas for the 2007 Charter Conference in Berlin (4-5 June 2007) which was used as a platform to exchange information on start-up procedures and presented the best practices which had been selected.

Assessment of compliance with the 2006 spring council conclusions for start-ups

The conclusions of the 2006 Spring European Council (point 30), stated that:

"Member States should establish, by 2007, a one-stop-shop, , for setting up a company in a quick and simple way; reduce the average time for setting up a business, to one week anywhere in the EU by the end of 2007 and that start-up fees should be as low as possible."

In December 2007 the Commission assessed all the 27 Member States on their compliance with the 2006 Spring Council conclusions for start-ups. The results for each of the three areas were:


Number of Member States



Not accomplished










The average time to start-up a company was 12 days and the average cost € 485.

Most countries have established a one-stop-shop or equivalent arrangement even though in some cases they do not cover all types of companies: only 2 out of 3 one stop shop systems offer the possibility to register a private limited company.

In general registration times have improved and in half of the Member States it is now possible to register a company within one week. However, starting a business requires more than mere registration and there are still vast differences between Member States in terms of the number, cost and length of procedures required. In most cases, there is scope and need for greater simplification.

The last 20 months since the conclusions have seen Member States' efforts continue and in some cases accelerate in the pursuit of easier company start-ups. Some of the most relevant examples within this time frame have been:

  • Italy is interconnecting the different agencies involved in company creation. This will effectively transform the notaries into a one-stop-shop. A similar process has already been accomplished by Belgium.
  • Slovenia is finalising a number of very important modifications into their physical (VEM) and virtual (e-VEM) one-stop-shops that will reduce the times and costs to the levels of the best countries in Europe.
  • Estonia has introduced a web based system operated by the notaries that has reduced company registration times to hours or in some cases even minutes. Also Portugal (empresanahora) and France (cfenet) have "transported" their successful start-up procedures into the web facilitating the online creation of companies.
  • The Netherlands have eliminated two formerly required procedures which will reduce 5 days from the time to register a company.
  • In Latvia, the registry has been given power to act as a notary, hence eliminating the need for that step with the accompanying reduction of costs and times.

In addition to those there are some significant on-going processes:

  • Luxembourg has embarked on a process of modernisation of their IT systems which will reduce the times required to comply with the start-up procedures.
  • Finland has embarked on a very ambitious programme to create a fully integrated enterprise portal (enterprisefinland). It will include the possibility to create companies online. Results are expected in some years. Sweden expects to be able to offer online creation of any type of company in 2008.
  • Spain is expanding the capabilities of the PAIT one-stop-shop so that it can handle private limited companies. There is also a project to merge PAIT with the other one-stop-shop network (VUE-Ventanilla Unica Empresarial).

Country by country information

For a more detailed, country by country information:

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