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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

Start-up procedures: progress in 2008

Average time and cost to start-up a private limited company is 9 natural days (12 days in 2007) and cost is € 463 (€ 485 in 2007).

Time reduction is due to two factors:

  • A recalculation of times required in each country and
  • Simplifications introduced in 3 countries: time in Greece drops from 30 natural days to 15days, in Spain from 30-40 natural days to 17.5 and in Bulgaria from 10-20 days to 3-7 days

Cost reduction is due to:

  • Fee reductions in Greece which drop the total cost from € 1,366 in 2007 to €1,101 in 2008 and in Bulgaria from € 155 in 2007 to € 82 in 2008
  • From 2008 starting a company in Slovenia it is completely free (a reduction of cost from €250 to €0)

Despite these changes the number of compliant Member States in terms of times (13) and cost (23) remain unchanged and are exactly the same as in 2007.

One stop shops:

The Bulgarian Registry Agency has become a fully operational one-stop-shop in 2008 as it is now able to integrate all the required procedures to start-up a company. The number of compliant countries rises thus to 18 (17 in 2007).

The Commission has finalised its assessment of 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 are:

Number of Member States


Not accomplished










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.

Member States that fully comply with all three objectives (one-stop-shop, time and cost) are BE, DK, EE, FR, HU, PT, RO, SI and UK. It should be noted, however, that this analysis only looks at the steps to get a company registered. In all countries there are further administrative steps and more time is required before a new SME can start its business operations.

Slovenia: a good example to be highlighted

Slovenia was already fully compliant in all three counts by the end of 2007 (one-stop-shop, times and cost). Yet they have been able to go one step further and reduce fees from € 250 to €0. Now it is free to start-up a company in Slovenia, the second country in the EU after Denmark. The electronic one-stop-shop system e-VEM ('vse na enem mestu'), which is able to register all forms of companies, has resulted in savings of € 10.2 million a year for Slovenian SMEs. In 2005-2008, registration of enterprises has increased by 36.7% per annum on average compared to the year before the introduction of the system.

Country by country information

For a more detailed, country by country information:

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