Europe is a unique place with a varied and rich history. It has been home to multiple civilizations throughout its illustrious history and has profoundly influenced the world. Nevertheless, the heady days of invasion, war, and colonization are long behind the continent, and it now stands as one of the most desirable places to live and work. In this post, you will learn about the history of the continent, its place in the modern world, and the prospects for doing business on the continent in the coming years.
The history of Europe is a story of transformation, movement, and change. Europe has been a center of power and culture for centuries. It is one of the birthplaces of modern civilization (alongside the behemoths of India and China), democracy, science, and of course, Christianity. However, it was also the origin of numerous wars and empires that spread across the globe and pillaged other countries for profit. Nonetheless, Europe has well and truly embraced the modern world well and is currently at the forefront of human rights, sustainable living, and commerce and innovation. Furthermore, with an abundance of world-class universities, Europe boasts a highly educated workforce ready to take on any challenge presented to them.
A Tale Of Two Entities
When discussing Europe, it is wise to separate the entire region from the supranational bloc. The content consists of 44 nations (if you include Russia), while the European Union (EU) consists of 27 member states. It is wise to separate the two entities when discussing business to avoid confusion. For instance, the EU has numerous members that allow people from all over the world to obtain what is known as a golden visa. These visas enable business people to invest in certain countries in order to take advantage of the EU single market and the benefits that come with it. Currently, around six nations provide this option, with the Golden Visa Portugal 2022 version offering the most advantages in terms of business opportunity and living standards. Nevertheless, the fact that these nations provide golden visas to potential investors shows how serious they are when it comes to attracting investment and developing their economies.
However, while these golden visas are a great chance to set up your business within the bloc and take full advantage of the benefits of free movement of goods and people, other European nations could provide additional possibilities. The most glaring example is the United Kingdom (UK) which officially left the EU in 2020. While the UK lost several benefits from the split, it remains a popular destination for investment in a wide range of industries. Its proximity to the mainland, language advantage, and historical access to financial markets has enabled the UK to remain a somewhat relevant prospect for foreign direct investment. Moreover, there are other markets for potential investors that are half inside and half outside the bloc, such as Norway and Switzerland. Nevertheless, when most foreign countries think of business, they inevitably want to gain access to the largest number of people possible, which the EU can provide.
What Does Business Look Like today?
In the last 20 years, Europe has faced a number of headwinds that have rocked the investment community. This is due to many factors, such as the rise of China, Brexit, and the COVID pandemic. However, the EU and other European nations are working towards finding solutions to these issues and looking at ways to incentivize more investment. Aside from the plethora of problems facing the continent (which also affect the rest of the world), it remains a leader in numerous industries, including:
- Global finance: London comes to mind when discussing European finance. However, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Zurich are also world leaders.
- Law and order: With most of the world using a mixture of the Westminster system or The Napoleonic Code, it is fair to say that Europe has had an outsized influence on the world of law and continues to do so. Moreover, people worldwide use the various European legal systems to settle disputes thanks to its highly-regarded impartiality.
- Human rights: There is no question that Europe and the EU, in particular, play a pivotal role in ensuring human rights across the globe.
- Agriculture: It is a well-established fact that Europe is home to many of the world’s most sophisticated cuisines, right alongside those of India and China.
- Fashion: When one thinks about the fashion world, the names of various European fashion houses likely come to mind. Versace, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Gucci…the list goes on and on, and they are all in high demand in locations from Sao Paulo to Shanghai.
- Automotive: BMW, Mercedes, Fiat, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Peugeot, Land Rover, Jaguar Citroen, and many more brands make up the extensive automotive industry in Europe.
- Energy: From solar panels and wind turbines to nuclear power, Europe is at the forefront of the energy revolution.
- Hospitality: Europe is home to some of the most visited destinations in the world, with over 700 million tourists descending on its numerous cities every year (despite a slow recovery since the pandemic.).
What Does The Future Hold?
Despite some hiccups along the way, Europe remains one of the premier locations to do business. While it might not be as dynamic as the US or China, it has an enormous pedigree to take advantage of and a large internal market to sell to. Moreover, salaries in most nations remain stable (despite inflationary pressures), making it possible to market high-value goods and services to people with the means to buy them. Further, the EU and other European countries have set up funds and created a business-friendly environment favorable to investors. A bright future lies ahead for European investment, whether inside or outside the EU, as many multinational companies (both foreign and domestic) are clamoring to set up in the region.
Despite the current economic headwinds ravaging the global economy, Europe remains a desirable place for investment. Many EU nationals offer the chance to apply for golden visas, while others have developed tax incentives to encourage business.