European Union: Economy#

Internally, the EU has adopted the framework of a single market with free movement of goods, services and capital and a common currency amongst 18 member states. Internationally, the EU aims to bolster Europe's trade position and its political and economic weight. Despite great differences in per capita income among member states (from $13,000 to $82,000) and in national attitudes toward issues like inflation, debt, and foreign trade, the EU has achieved a high degree of coordination of economic and fiscal policies. Eleven established EU member states, under the auspices of the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), introduced the euro as their common currency on 1 January 1999 (Greece did so two years later). Between 2004 and 2007, 12 states acceded to the EU that are, in general, less advanced economically than the other 15 member states. On 1 July 2013 Croatia became the most recent member of the EU, following a decade long application process. Of the 13 most recent entrants, Slovenia (1 January 2007), Cyprus and Malta (1 January 2008), Slovakia (1 January 2009), Estonia (1 January 2011) and Latvia (2014) have adopted the euro; 11 other member states - other than the UK and Denmark, which have formal opt-outs - are required by EU treaties to adopt the common currency upon meeting fiscal and monetary convergence criteria. Following the 2008-09 global economic crisis, the EU economy saw moderate GDP growth in 2010 and 2011, but a sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone intensified in 2011, making it impossible for several member states to gain market financing for new sovereign debt to sustain fiscal deficits. As a result, the eurozone crisis became the bloc's top economic and political priority. Despite EU/IMF rescue programs in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus, and fiscal consolidation measures in many other EU member states, significant risks to growth remain, including high public and private debt loads, crimped lending as banks raise capital, aging populations, onerous regulations, and high unemployment. In response, eurozone leaders in 2011 boosted funding levels for the temporary European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) to almost $600 billion and made loan terms more favorable for crisis-hit countries, followed in July 2012 by the permanent European Stabilization Mechanism (ESM). In addition, 26 of 28 EU member states (all except the UK and Czech Republic) enacted a "fiscal compact" treaty to boost long-term budgetary discipline and coordination. In September 2012 the European Central Bank indicated its willingness to purchase bonds from troubled eurozone member states that agree to a formal program of fiscal and structural reforms, aiming to reduce their borrowing costs and restore confidence in the eurozone. The eurozone has since made great strides towards a banking union to increase financial stability and improve lending conditions. In an effort to restore economic growth and create jobs, in 2013 the EU and the United States started negotiations on an ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement with the goal of expanding already massive trade and investment flows.

Economic Facts#

GDP (purchasing power parity)$15.85 trillion (2013 est.)
$15.83 trillion (2012 est.)
$15.89 trillion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars
GDP - real growth rate0.1% (2013 est.)
-0.3% (2012 est.)
1.7% (2011 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$34,500 (2013 est.)
$34,500 (2012 est.)
$34,600 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars
GDP - composition, by sector of originagriculture: 1.8%
industry: 25.2%
services: 72.8% (2013 est.)
Population below poverty linenote - see individual country entries of member states
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 2.9%
highest 10%: 23.9% (2012 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 5.2%
industry: 22.7%
services: 72.2% (2012 est.)
Exports - commoditiesmachinery, motor vehicles, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, fuels, aircraft, plastics, iron and steel, wood pulp and paper products, alcoholic beverages, furniture
Agriculture - productswheat, barley, oilseeds, sugar beets, wine, grapes; dairy products, cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry; fish
Imports - commoditiesfuels and crude oil, machinery, vehicles, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, precious gemstones, textiles, aircraft, plastics, metals, ships
Exchange rateseuros per US dollar -
0.7634 (2013 est.)
0.7752 (2012 est.)
0.755 (2010 est.)
0.7198 (2009 est.)
0.6827 (2008 est.)
Exports$2.173 trillion (2012 est.)
$2.174 trillion (2011 est.)
note: external exports, excluding intra-EU trade
Debt - external$15.95 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
$14.78 trillion (31 December 2011)
Fiscal yearNA
Imports$2.312 trillion (2012 est.)
$2.404 trillion (2011 est.)
note: external imports, excluding intra-EU trade
Industrial production growth rate-0.3% (2013 est.)
Industriesamong the world's largest and most technologically advanced regions, the EU industrial base includes: ferrous and non-ferrous metal production and processing, metal products, petroleum, coal, cement, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, rail transportation equipment, passenger and commercial vehicles, construction equipment, industrial equipment, shipbuilding, electrical power equipment, machine tools and automated manufacturing systems, electronics and telecommunications equipment, fishing, food and beverages, furniture, paper, textiles
Inflation rate (consumer prices)1.5% (2013 est.)
2.6% (2012 est.)
Labor force228.6 million (2013 est.)
Unemployment rate10.5% (2013 est.)
10.1% (2012)
Distribution of family income - Gini index30.6 (2012 est.)
30.8 (2011 est.)
Current account balance-$34.49 billion (2011 est.)
-$5.73 billion (2010 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$812.1 billion (31 December 2011)
note: $863.8 billion (31 December 2011); this includes reserves held by the European Central Bank and euro-zone national central banks; it excludes reserves for non-euro-area members of the EU
GDP (official exchange rate)$16.95 trillion (2013 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$NA
Market value of publicly traded shares$10.4 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
$NA (31 December 2011)
$10.56 trillion (31 December 2010 est.)
Central bank discount rate0.75% (31 December 2013)
1.5% (31 December 2012)
note: this is the European Central Bank's rate on the marginal lending facility, which offers overnight credit to banks in the euro area
Commercial bank prime lending rate5.9% (31 December 2010 est.)
7.52% (31 December 2009 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$21.71 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
$21.29 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)
note: this figure refers to the euro area only; it excludes credit data for non-euro-area members of the EU
Stock of narrow money$6.736 trillion (31 December 2013)
$6.219 trillion (31 December 2012)
note: this is the quantity of money, M1, for the euro area, converted into US dollars at the exchange rate for the date indicated; it excludes the stock of money carried by non-euro-area members of the European Union
Stock of broad money$12.9 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
$12.29 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)
note: this is the quantity of broad money for the euro area, converted into US dollars at the exchange rate for the date indicated; it excludes the stock of broad money carried by non-euro-area members of the European Union
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 56.9%
government consumption: 21.6%
investment in fixed capital: 17.9%
investment in inventories: 0.1%
exports of goods and services: 44.9%
imports of goods and services: -42.9%
(2012 est.)
Gross national saving19.2% of GDP (2013)
19% of GDP (2012)
19.5% of GDP (2011)