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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

Start-up procedures: progress in 2009

In 2009 average time and cost to start-up a private limited company is 8 days and cost is € 417.

In 2008 average time and cost to start-up a private limited company was 9 days and cost is € 463.

In 2007 average time and cost to start-up a private limited company was 12 days and cost is € 485.

Bulgaria has consolidated a start-up procedure streamlining process initiated in 2008 in which 9 start-up procedures were merged and simplified into just 1. This has led to a considerable time reduction.

Streamlining of processes in the Netherlands, Hungary, Slovakia and Malta have also contributed to some time reductions in those countries.

Germany has successfully implemented a legislative amendment in the legislation for private limited companies which not only simplifies the procedure but may also be instrumental in fostering the creation of more enterprises. People considering the creation of a GmbH have a new possibility, the UG company. This is identical to a GmbH but has no minimum capital requirement initially. The entrepreneur will "replenish" the capital to the GmbH level (minimum €25,000) with the profits during the subsequent years. This is a measure clearly targeting more entrepreneurship in Germany.

On the negative side, times in Spain have been considerably revised upwards. In 2008 a sizeable time reduction was awarded to Spain on the basis of the introduction of a new law that would substantially simplify start-up procedures. In 2009 it was found out that that law had not yet been implemented so times were moved back to pre-2008 levels.

From 2009 target time to start-up a company: 3 days

The December 2008 Competitiveness Council adopted "The Council's Action Plan for a Small Business Act for Europe" which included a number of concrete measures to support SMEs. Amongst these it asked Member States to bring down start-up times to 3 working days. The previous benchmark was 1 week (5 working days).

Despite improvements in times required to start-up a company in a number of countries, this new 3 day benchmark means that only 9 countries comply on this count (13 in 2008 when the benchmark was 5 days).


Number of Member States



Not accomplished










Number of countries that comply with Cost and One-stop-shops remain equal to those of 2008.

Member States that fully comply with all three objectives (one-stop-shop, time and cost) are BE, DK, EE, HU, PT, RO, and SI.

Country by country information

For a more detailed, country by country information:

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