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Madrid closes on Barcelona as best city to do business

Both ranked in the top 10 of survey of European cities

Madrid is closing the gap on Barcelona in terms of executives' perceptions of the best places to do business in Europe, according to a survey released Thursday by Cushman & Wakefield.

The consultant's European Cities Monitor, which canvasses the opinions of 500 executives in 36 European cities, showed Madrid moving up one spot in the table from eighth to seventh, while Barcelona fell one peg to sixth. London is ranked by some distance as the leading city in which to do business followed by Paris and Frankfurt. Amsterdam was the fourth most popular with Berlin in fifth.

Spain and Germany are the only two countries to have more than one city in the top ten. "There is a lot of merit in that given the crisis the country is going through and the discredit it has been subjected to, in some cases exaggerated, by the international press," Cushman & Wakefield's chief executive in Spain, Roger Cook, said. "That said, we can't afford to feel comfortable, and we have to keep working to keep playing in the first division."

The survey includes a number of components, of which the most important for respondents remains easy access to markets and customers, followed by the availability of qualified staff, the quality of telecommunications and transport links with other cities.

Barcelona topped the ranks in terms of quality of life for employees, while Madrid broke into the top five in this component for the first time. The main reason behind Madrid's rise in the rankings was respondents' improved perceptions of its access to markets, an aspect in which Barcelona's rating fell sharply from 13th best to 19th. Both cities were well down the rankings in terms of languages spoken.