Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Start-up procedures

Start-up procedures

Starting and running a new company is not easy. Cumbersome, expensive, and time-consuming administrative procedures often discourage potential entrepreneurs from setting up their own businesses. The European Commission's objective is to reduce the burden of administrative procedures and encourage more people to become entrepreneurs, create new jobs, and improve Europe's economic performance.

What is a start-up procedure?

The start-up procedure is a 'procedural cycle for a start-up that can be considered complete when a company is fully operational to develop its economic activities'.

Evidence shows that the less burdensome the administrative procedures for setting up a company are, the higher the rate of business start-ups is. Continuing with administrative simplification is therefore a top priority for the Commission.

Commission actions

  • A dedicated expert group of start-up coordinators (42 kB) was established to monitor the progress made by EU countries. Start-up procedures are also discussed by National SME Envoys.
  • Start-up procedures have been taken up by the 2006 Council.
  • The Small Business Act (2008) invites EU countries to simplify and reduce the administrative burden on businesses and to improve the quality of legislation.
  • The May 2011 Competitiveness Council asked EU countries 'to reduce the start-up time for new enterprises to 3 days and the cost to EUR 100 by 2012'.
  • The Commission’s main role is to follow up on developments in EU countries, monitor them, publish results, and help exchange best practices 2007-2012 (185 kB), 2013 (213 kB).
  • The Entrepreneurship Action Plan adopted in January 2013 promotes digital and web start-ups.

Situation in EU countries

Even though the EU business environment has improved, progress remains uneven across different countries. While it is rather easy to establish a new company in some countries, the procedures are still lengthy and complicated in others.

In 2017 the average time to start a private limited company was 3.1 days and cost was €311. The reduction of average time is mostly due to simplifications implemented in Cyprus, Greece, Hungary and Lithuania. The reduction of average cost is mostly due to a decrease in costs in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Romania and Sweden.

Importance of entrepreneurship education

The first step to starting a business is to have the right entrepreneurial skills, knowledge, and attitude. Entrepreneurial skills can be built through informal learning and through formal education.

Support available to start-ups

Supporting documents