The World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2017 report is out, and it paints an extremely positive picture of the European business climate. The continent continues to have a strong presence in the upper echelons of the rankings, standing out as the best location to set up a business and trade with the rest of the world.
In spite of continued economic and political difficulties, European nations dominate the top of the charts, with 5 of the top 10 (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the UK and Macedonia) and 35 of the top 50 countries. The continent as a whole is the most improved in the world over more than a decade, having enacted a record number of business reforms since 2004.
This dominance has been driven by smaller improvements in EU nations, and sweeping reforms in non-EU countries which had been lagging behind. Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, FYR Macedonia and Ukraine all improved in every single Doing Business metric, with Europe and Central Asia making 11 more reforms than the global average over the last 12 years.
The World Bank Group’s ease of doing business index, stylised as Doing Business, is an annual ranking measuring the regulations and protections given to businesses in different countries. The report has been published every year since 2004, with occasional additions based on demand and peer review.
The 2017 edition includes gender metrics for the first time in 4 of the 11 topics, gauging the barriers to women in starting and managing a business in different countries. It also contains several new case studies, and a pilot study on public procurement regulations.
Countries have been shown to be adopting the recommendations of the Doing Business report with widespread success. Several major economies have responded directly to their rankings in the past, with Indian officials already blaming their modest improvement for 2017 on changes implemented after the report was compiled.