European attractiveness survey 2014

Europe in five years

A year of growth for international investment in Europe

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The outlook for Europe has brightened in the past year, however, the continent still underperforms compared to other markets and have to meet investors’ needs in the future.

Investors speak: a new optimism for Europe

54% of respondents think that Europe’s attractiveness as an investment destination will continue to improve in the next three years.


Investors are significantly more optimistic about Europe’s future

How do you anticipate the evolution of Europe’s attractiveness over the next three years?

EY European attractiveness survey 2014 - How do you anticipate the evolution of Europe’s attractiveness over the next three years?

Source: EY's 2014 European attractiveness survey (total respondents: 808).


  • For a majority of our respondents, R&D will be the driving force in Europe’s future FDI attractiveness.  An increasing number of investors acknowledge that the region’s research, innovation, and talent are its main strengths.
  • The ICT sector is seen as a key driver of growth in Europe in coming years. However, foreign investors doubt that Europe is ready to exploit the digital revolution and to cope with future demands. Governments need to act quickly to create policies and ICT infrastructures that can support advanced technologies. 
  • 25% of our respondents see the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry as the major driver of European growth in coming years.
  • According to one in five investors (+5% compared with last year), the automotive and transport industry will boost Europe’s future growth.
  • The sheen of the European cleantech sector has faded slightly, with 21% of respondents’ votes this year, putting it in 4th position. 

Europe’s attractiveness is subject to conditions

Boosting labor mobility and skills development will be one the major driver of Europe’s future attractiveness to investors. 

The creation of new jobs in Europe depends on the capacity of European countries:

  1. To address the skills mismatch in sectors such as ICT, health care and green, where job creation on a large-scale is possible
  2. To enhance labor mobility in the EU by allowing job-seekers to identify opportunities across other member nations and employers to gain access to the right set of people
  3. To promote easy mobility of international students from outside Europe

For foreign investors, Europe could become an innovation leader in the coming years by reducing bureaucracy, providing education and training in new technologies, and support SMEs environment: 

  • Harmonize regulations will help simplify the business environment and improve the quality of legislation. This need was particularly emphasized by investors already established in Europe (44% of respondents). Businesses seek clarity and want to operate in the region as if it were a country and not a continent.
  • Support advanced technologies and innovation will allow the continent remain globally attractive (38% of respondents).
  • SMEs, which account for over 99% of all European businesses, are critical to a dynamic, self-sustaining culture of innovation. Europe needs to revamp the entrepreneurial environment.