temple-bar-dublin Temple Bar, Dublin. Image: M. King/Flickr

For ambitious businesses looking to grow in Europe, the Emerald Isle needs to be firmly on their radar, as new research reveals it’s the best place to start a business.

A combination of a business-friendly tax system, easy access to finance and strong economic growth placed Ireland ahead of Slovakia, Latvia and Malta in the inaugural ‘Best Places For Business in Europe’ Index, compiled by World First.

Ireland is regularly cited as a good model for achieving economic recovery post financial crisis. The country’s progressive economic policies have attracted a wealth of foreign investment and seen the likes of Facebook, Google and Microsoft open local offices and creating thousands of jobs.

Ireland is also among the top three for education levels in the EU, with over 92% of the population attaining a high school education.

Edward Hardy, analyst at World First said: “For any business looking to expand in Europe, the first consideration is how easy it will be to make your business successful in your chosen market.

“Our research reveals Ireland as the optimum place to achieve such business success in Europe with new businesses being able to benefit from the Emerald Isle’s growing economy and the business friendly initiatives put in place to assist the private sector. This includes the loosening of Ireland’s tax residency requirements and reducing corporation tax to 12.5% which has led to the influx of a number of multinationals already.

Despite the uncertainty caused by the EU referendum, the UK comes 5th on the list beating Spain (10th), France (14th) and Germany (25th).

Italy scored last position due to a toxic mix of low economic growth and a pessimistic attitude among private businesses on the availability of funding.

The criteria covered a range of economic and demographic evidence including Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, VAT, business birth and death ratios, corporation tax, education levels, tax breaks for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and access to finance.

Mr. Hardy added: “Despite the uncertainty caused by the UK’s vote to leave, it remains one of the best places to do business in Europe which bodes well for a post-Brexit UK. As the fastest growing G7 economy, the UK provides businesses with a competitive tax system and access to diverse talent. These key characteristics are what the current government will be keen to highlight when negotiating trade deals post-Brexit as they seek to convince foreign firms that the UK is open for business.”