Bulgaria’s Black Sea coastal city of Varna ranked first among 22 cities in Central and Southeastern Europe as the best place to start a business according to a World Bank report. Titled “Doing Business in the European Union 2017: Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania” the report analysed 6 cities from Bulgaria (Burgas, Pleven, Plovdiv, Ruse, Sofia and Varna), 7 cities from Hungary (Budapest, Debrecen, Gyor, Miskolc, Pecs, Szeged, and Szekesfehervar) and 9 cities from Romania (Brasov, Bucuresti, Cluj-Napoca, Constanta, Craiova, Iasi, Oradea, Ploiesti, and Timisoara), benchmarking them against their performance when it comes to business regulations affecting domestic small and medium sized firms in five areas: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property and enforcing contracts.
It also compares the situation in those cities, including the three capitals, with 187 other countries and provides recommendations and good practices for improving business environment. According to the report, country capitals such as Budapest and Sofia lag behind most of the smaller cities in their countries. However, Bucharest ranks in the top half among Romanian cities in most areas measured, demonstrating the potential for dealing efficiently with high demand for business services.
The report also finds that business regulations and their implementation vary substantially both among and within Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania—with the biggest differences in Bulgaria and Romania. For example, in Bulgaria, it takes a month longer to get an electricity connection in Sofia than in Burgas and, in Romania, resolving and enforcing a commercial claim takes nearly eight months longer in Brasov than in Timisoara.
It also notes that no city excels in all five areas measured; among the 22 cities benchmarked, each ranks in the top half on at least one indicator set and in the bottom half on at least one other. However, each of the three countries covered has cities that outperform the European Union average in at least one area: Varna and Pleven in Bulgaria in starting a business, Pecs and Szeged in Hungary in dealing with construction permits, all Hungarian cities and Oradea in Romania in registering property, and most of the cities in enforcing contracts. But, no city is close to the EU average in getting electricity.
Ruse leads in the areas of registering property and enforcing contracts, Burgas in getting electricity; Varna stands out for efficient business registration, and Sofia for its relatively fast construction permitting process
Debrecen stands out for its good practices in contract enforcement and for its efficient property registration; Szeged leads in the area of getting electricity, and Pecs in construction permitting
Iasi leads in the area of getting electricity, while Craiova stands out for its good practices in construction permitting, Timisoara for its performance in contract enforcement, and Oradea for its greater quality of land administration.
“Reform-minded officials can make tangible improvements by replicating good practices in other cities in their country. Bulgarian cities could make starting a business easier by adopting the good practices in Varna. Hungarian cities could improve in getting electricity by emulating the good practices of Szeged and Szekesfehervar. And Romanian cities could look to Timisoara's example to improve contract enforcement.” the report suggests.
Doing Business in the European Union is a series of subnational reports being produced by the World Bank at the request of and funded by the European Commission. A second edition, covering 25 cities in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Portugal and the Slovak Republic, is slated for release in 2018.
Varna at a glance
Established: 575 BCE Total area: 154.236 km2 Population: 335,177 (as of 31/12/2016) Website: http://www.varna.bg
Varna is the third largest city in Bulgaria and the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. It is referred to as the maritime capital of Bulgaria and headquarters the Bulgarian Navy and merchant marine. The city has been a major economic, social and cultural centre for almost three millennia.