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Top 10 most competitive economies in Europe for contractors

Whether you are trying to decide where to base your next contract adventure, or seeking out potential new recruits, perhaps you should consider staying in Europe.

It’s a relatively hassle-free decision; having the single-currency, i.e. the Euro, makes it easier to compare value for money, and if you are already an EU Citizen, you can work anywhere within the EU without having to apply for a Visa.

Of course, here at 3C Global, we want to make the transition as smooth as possible for you. We believe that the more information you have, the easier it will be to make an informed decision. With that in mind, here are the most competitive economies in Europe, as identified in The Global Competitiveness Report carried out by The World Economic Forum: ​

In tenth place we have Luxembourg, which is one of the leading countries in the world in terms of technological readiness. However the provision of healthcare, as well as primary and secondary education continues to be poor in contrast to the rest of Europe, with executives citing an inadequately educated workforce as their main concern.

At number nine is Belgium, which has dropped four places in the rankings in the last four years. Unlike neighbouring Luxembourg, Belgium’s health and education services are of a notably high standard, and it is a top performer on the business sophistication and innovation pillars. However the reliability of the financial market remains a concern for contractors seeking employment in Belgium, and overall labour market efficiency is relatively weak.

Denmark is the eighth most competitive European country in the rankings, and although improvements still need to be made, has a good higher education system in place. In terms of setting up business, vast improvements need to be made in goods and financial market efficiencies, where Denmark ranks 20th and 22nd respectively in global terms. Rates and the complexity of tax were cited as major issues for those surveyed for The Global Competitiveness Report.

Following at number seven we have Norway, which is considered to be relatively strong in terms of higher training and education, technological readiness, financial market development and labour market efficiency – good news for those seeking to base their business in the country. However, comparatively weak infrastructure systems, high tax rates and inconsistent wage rates could be seen as potential push factors for would-be contractors.

The UK ranks as the sixth most competitive economy, with economic conditions there now allowing for London to become Europe’s leading tech and start-up hub. However the government deficit remains high at 9% GDP, indicating that the British economy hasn’t quite fully recovered and Brexit will present even more challenges.

Sweden comes in at fifth place, and continues to live up to its reputation of excellence in the areas of education and business sophistication. However, high taxes and restrictive labour regulations are challenges to Sweden maintaining its high ranking.

At number four we have Finland, which is recovering from the negative effects of the economic downturn on its IT and paper industry. Yet Finland continues to offer promising prospects, such as an excellent education system and a culture of innovation.

The Netherlands makes the top three this year, jumping from fifth place last year. Although the labour market remains quite rigid owing to a slow financial recovery, education and infrastructure are what entices prospective recruiters and contractors to the country.

In second place is Germany, which is unsurprising given the overall resilience of the German economy. Thanks to an overall reduction in government debt, Germany continues to be competitive, with strengthened efficiency in the financial and labour markets.

Finally, Switzerland scoops top place as the most competitive economy in Europe for the seventh year running. It is a global leader in innovation, business sophistication and labour market efficiency. However, only time will tell whether Switzerland will continue to hold its ranking, as gender imbalances and immigration policies may affect its ability to be truly competitive in the future.

Wherever in the world you decide to work, don’t forget that 3C Global are always on hand to advise you on every aspect of contracting in Europe, from where to find the latest jobs in your area of expertise, to helping you recruit skilled and fully compliant contractors.


APSco SIA CM Member