Skip to main content

Doing business in the European Union

Start, manage and grow a business

Europe is full of business opportunities. It’s important you’re aware of the rules when it comes to setting up a business, including value added tax (VAT) and customs, product standards, and employment. There are also several EU funds that you can benefit from as a small business.

Starting a business in the EU

Find out how to launch your start-up and what the legal requirements are. There is also information on how to protect your business ideas, rules on annual accounts and mergers with foreign companies, and how to make the most of the staff exchange scheme.

VAT & customs

Find out the rules on VAT, excise duties, parent companies and their subsidiaries, company tax, or check if a business is registered to trade in Europe (EU VAT number).

Product standards & compliance

Standards are voluntary guidelines that provide technical specifications for certain goods, services and processes to help protect the environment and consumer health. Before you can sell a product in an EU country, it must comply with the rules that apply in that country and throughout the EU.

Employment & staff welfare

Find out the requirements set by EU law on the terms of employment for staff, changes to work contracts and on informing and consulting staff. There are also specific rules for transport sector workers and posted workers (employees hired in one country but employed in another).

Supporting small to medium-sized businesses

Small to medium-sized businesses are the backbone of Europe’s economy, and account for 99% of all businesses in the EU. They are therefore key to the EU’s twin ambition to create a sustainable and digital economy.

Access to finance

The EU offers support to small businesses through local, regional or national authorities. Financial intermediaries such as banks and venture capital firms also provide funding with in the form of EU-guaranteed loans, lease finance and equity funding.

Helping small businesses expand their horizons

To help small to medium-sized businesses export and invest beyond the EU, the Commission provides information on access to markets and matchmaking opportunities.

General advice & support

The Enterprise Europe Network helps small to medium-sized businesses with international ambitions. You’ll find expert advice, contacts and events to connect you with the right international partners and help you grow your business.