Since the result of the 2016 EU referendum was first announced, there has been frenzied speculation over which European countries and cities will “steal” business from London as entrepreneurs and investors move away from the UK. Whilst predictions of Paris and Dublin becoming the new European financial centres have not materialised, UK business has been setting up shop elsewhere.
Rather than moving wholesale out of the UK, businesses of all sizes have taken steps to establish themselves in an EU-27 country, usually via a branch, so that they make continue trading within the European Union after Brexit. If you’re looking for the best cities to set up shop in before Brexit, read on to find out.
If you’re a betting man who hopes that there will be a withdrawal period allowing businesses to adjust, the odds are bleak. According to the latest Brexit betting odds, the chances of a “no deal” exit currently stand at around 5/2. Fortunately, the German government has already promised that any people and businesses who arrive before the end of March can remain in the country as before.
This helps make Berlin, Germany’s capital as well as Europe’s emerging startup hub, a great choice for businesses looking to relocate. Office rents are low, coworking spaces are high, and the quality of life is one of the best in the world.
The gorgeous Hungarian capital Budapest is also a prime spot for businesses looking to set up an EU branch. One of the most appealing aspects is the fact that Hungary currently has a corporation tax rate of a staggeringly-low 9% – a full 10% lower than that of the UK. Exporting goods from Hungary is also completely free, which will have a substantive impact on your bottom line.
Amsterdam has already been hoovering up British business, with Sony Music, the European Banking Authority, and several other major organizations already relocating from London to the Dutch capital. The city has a strong support network for small businesses, with the Dutch government being incredibly generous in terms of grants, free office space, and bureaucratic support. One downside is that the Netherlands is the most exposed EU country to any potential Brexit fallout, with some estimates predicting that the country will experience its worst recession in recent history should a “no deal occur”.
Denmark has already been rolling out the red carpet for any businesses who have an interest in setting up shop in the capital, with the government embarking on an extensive PR campaign to lure British businesses. The city has one of the highest densities of coworking spaces in the world, as well as an acute shortage of tech workers which means that any UK tech companies are currently receiving the royal treatment over there. One downside to the easy living of Copenhagen is the taxes, which can be absolutely brutal for someone used to the comparatively low tax regime in the UK.
There may be no way to truly “Brexit-proof” your business, but there are steps you can take to immunise yourself as much as possible. Consider a new life for your business in Europe before it’s too late.