Doing Business in the European Union 2020: Italy

Author: Subnational Doing Business
Published: December 04, 2019
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Doing Business in the European Union 2020: Greece, Ireland and Italy assesses the regulatory environment for businesses and its impact on local entrepreneurs in 6 cities in Greece (Alexandroupoli, Athens, Heraklion, Larissa, Patra and Thessaloniki), 5 cities in Ireland (Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford) and 13 cities in Italy (Ancona, Bari, Bologna, Cagliari, Florence, Genoa, Milan, Naples, Padua, Palermo, Reggio Calabria, Rome and Turin). The study measures regulations relevant to five stages in the life of a small to medium-size domestic firm: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property and enforcing contracts. In each of these areas, the study highlights good practices that can be leveraged to empower local entrepreneurs and firms.

Doing Business in the European Union is a series of subnational studies requested and funded by the European Commission, Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, and produced by the World Bank Group. Previous editions, covering cities from Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Portugal, Romania and Slovakia, were released in 2017-2018.

Where is it easier to do business in Italy?

Main Findings

  • No single city does equally well on all five indicators. Ancona and Milan lead in starting a business, Cagliari in dealing with construction permits, Bologna in getting electricity, Rome in registering property and Turin in enforcing contracts.
  • There are good practices to be found across many of the cities measured. Ten cities lead in at least one indicator category. Bologna and Milan have the greatest number of best practices: they lead in five indicator categories each.
  • Italy shows large subnational performance gaps. These disparities can help policymakers identify which cities have good practices that other cities can adopt and make improvements without major legislative overhaul.
  • Variance in regulatory performance among Italian cities is particularly significant in three areas: obtaining electricity, construction permitting and contract enforcement. The cities scored most similarly in two areas: registering property and starting a business. This convergence seems attributable, in large part, to the nationwide launch of digital tools that streamline regulatory processes.
  • Replicating all the domestic good practices identified would propel Italy 15 places higher in the global ease of doing business ranking. A hypothetical Italian city that adopts the best domestic practices identified by the study would rank 43 in the global ranking of 190 economies on the ease of doing business (Italy, as represented by Rome, ranks 58).
  • In the long run, Italian cities can look for good practices outside the country to further improve their business regulations. Despite a number of good practices documented in the study, challenges remain. Firms across Italy still face inefficient and lengthy procedures that carry a high cost. This is particularly the case for the enforcing contracts area, the only indicator where all Italian cities perform below the EU Doing Business average.