European Union

Introduction :: European Union


The evolution of what is today the European Union (EU) from a regional economic agreement among six neighboring states in 1951 to today’s hybrid intergovernmental and supranational organization of 27 countries across the European continent stands as an unprecedented phenomenon in the annals of history. Dynastic unions for territorial consolidation were long the norm in Europe; on a few occasions even country-level unions were arranged – the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Austro-Hungarian Empire were examples. But for such a large number of nation-states to cede some of their sovereignty to an overarching entity is unique.

Although the EU is not a federation in the strict sense, it is far more than a free-trade association such as ASEAN or Mercosur, and it has certain attributes associated with independent nations: its own flag, currency (for some members), and law-making abilities, as well as diplomatic representation and a common foreign and security policy in its dealings with external partners.

Thus, inclusion of basic intelligence on the EU has been deemed appropriate as a separate entity in The World Factbook. However, because of the EU’s special status, this description is placed after the regular country entries.

Geography :: European Union


Europe between the North Atlantic Ocean in the west and Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine to the east

Map references



total: 4,236,351 sq km

rank by area (sq km):1. France (includes five overseas regions) 643,801

  1. Spain 505,370
  2. Sweden 450,295
  3. Germany 357,022
  4. Finland 338,145
  5. Poland 312,685
  6. Italy 301,340
  7. Romania 238,391
  8. Greece 131,957
  9. Bulgaria 110,879
  10. Hungary 93,028
  11. Portugal 92,090
  12. Austria 83,871
  13. Czechia 78,867
  14. Ireland 70,273
  15. Lithuania 65,300
  16. Latvia 64,589
  17. Croatia 56,594
  18. Slovakia 49,035
  19. Estonia 45,228
  20. Denmark 43,094
  21. Netherlands 41,543
  22. Belgium 30,528
  23. Slovenia 20,273
  24. Cyprus 9,251
  25. Luxembourg 2,586
  26. Malta 316

Area – comparative

less than one-half the size of the US

Land boundaries

total: 13,770 km

border countries (19): Albania 212 km, Andorra 118 km, Belarus 1176 km, Bosnia and Herzegovina 956 km, Holy See 3 km, Liechtenstein 34 km, Macedonia 396 km, Moldova 683 km, Monaco 6 km, Montenegro 19 km, Norway 2375 km, Russia 2435 km, San Marino 37 km, Serbia 1353 km, Switzerland 1729 km, Turkey 415 km, United Kingdom 499 km, Ukraine 1324 km; note – the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement (2020) commits the United Kingdom (UK) to maintain an open border in Ireland, so the border between Northern Ireland (UK) and the Republic of Ireland is only de jure and is not a hard border; the de facto border is the Irish Sea between the islands of Ireland and Great Britain

note: data for European continent only


53,563.9 km


cold temperate; potentially subarctic in the north to temperate; mild wet winters; hot dry summers in the south


fairly flat along Baltic and Atlantic coasts; mountainous in the central and southern areas


lowest point: Zuidplaspolder, Netherlands -7 m

highest point: Mont Blanc, France 4,810 m

Natural resources

iron ore, natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, lead, zinc, bauxite, uranium, potash, salt, hydropower, arable land, timber, fish

Irrigated land

154,539.82 sq km (2011 est.)

Population distribution

population distribution varies considerably from country to country, but tends to follow a pattern of coastal and river settlement, with urban agglomerations forming large hubs facilitating large scale housing, industry, and commerce; the area in and around the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg (known collectively as Benelux), is the most densely populated area in the EU

Natural hazards

flooding along coasts; avalanches in mountainous area; earthquakes in the south; volcanic eruptions in Italy; periodic droughts in Spain; ice floes in the Baltic

Environment – current issues

various forms of air, soil, and water pollution; see individual country entries

Environment – international agreements

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94

signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds

People and Society :: European Union


rank by population: Germany – 80,159,662; France – 67,848,156; Italy – 62,402,659; Spain – 50,015,792; Poland – 38,282,325; Romania – 21,302,893; Netherlands – 17,280,397; Belgium – 11,720,716; Czechia – 10,702,498; Greece – 10,607,051; Portugal – 10,302,674; Sweden – 10,202,491; Hungary – 9,771,827; Austria – 8,859,449; Bulgaria – 6,966,899; Denmark – 5,869,410; Finland – 5,571,665; Slovakia – 5,440,602; Ireland – 5,176,569; Croatia – 4,227,746; Lithuania – 2,731,464; Slovenia – 2,102,678; Latvia – 1,881,232; Cyprus – 1,266,676; Estonia – 1,228,624; Luxembourg – 628,381; Malta – 457,267 (July 2020 est.)


Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish

note: only the 24 official languages are listed; German, the major language of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, is the most widely spoken mother tongue – about 16% of the EU population; English is the most widely spoken foreign language – about 29% of the EU population is conversant with it (2020)


Roman Catholic 48%, Protestant 12%, Orthodox 8%, other Christian 4%, Muslim 2%, other 1% (includes Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu), atheist 7%, non-believer/agnostic 16%, unspecified 2% (2012 est.)

Age structure


Median age

total: 44 years

male: 42.6 years

female: 45.5 years (2020 est.)

Population growth rate

0.10% (2020 est.)

Birth rate

9.5 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)

Death rate

10.7 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)

Net migration rate

2.2 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)

Population distribution

population distribution varies considerably from country to country, but tends to follow a pattern of coastal and river settlement, with urban agglomerations forming large hubs facilitating large scale housing, industry, and commerce; the area in and around the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg (known collectively as Benelux), is the most densely populated area in the EU

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female

total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 3.7 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 4 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 3.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 80.9 years

male: 78 years

female: 83.9 years (2020 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.62 children born/woman (2020 est.)

Current Health Expenditure

9.9% (2016)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate

note – see individual entries of member states

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS

note – see individual entries of member states

HIV/AIDS – deaths

note – see individual entries of member states

Major infectious diseases

note: widespread ongoing transmission of a respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is occurring regionally; the US Department of Homeland Security has issued instructions requiring US passengers who have been in the European Unions Schengen Area (comprised of the following 26 European states: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland) to travel through select airports where the US Government has implemented enhanced screening procedures

Education expenditures

4.6% of GDP (2017)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 17.1%

male: 17.3%

female: 16.9% (2018 est.)

Government :: European Union


conventional long form: European Union

abbreviation: EU


a hybrid and unique intergovernmental and supranational organization

National holiday

name: Brussels (Belgium), Strasbourg (France), Luxembourg, Frankfurt (Germany); note – the European Council, a gathering of the EU heads of state and/or government, and the Council of the European Union, a ministerial-level body of ten formations, meet in Brussels, Belgium, except for Council meetings held in Luxembourg in April, June, and October; the European Parliament meets in Brussels and Strasbourg, France, and has administrative offices in Luxembourg; the Court of Justice of the European Union is located in Luxembourg; and the European Central Bank is located in Frankfurt, Germany

geographic coordinates: (Brussels) 50 50 N, 4 20 E

time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

note: the 27 European Union countries spread across three time zones; a proposal has been put forward to do away with daylight savings time in all EU countries


27 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden; note -** candidate countries:** Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey

there are 13 overseas countries and territories (OCTs) (1 with Denmark [Greenland], 6 with France [French Polynesia; French Southern and Antarctic Lands; New Caledonia; Saint Barthelemy; Saint Pierre and Miquelon; Wallis and Futuna], and 6 with the Netherlands [Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten]), all are part of the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA)

note: there are non-European OCTs having special relations with Denmark, France, and the Netherlands (list is annexed to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union), that are associated with the EU to promote their economic and social development; member states apply to their trade with OCTs the same treatment as they accord each other pursuant to the treaties; OCT nationals are in principle EU citizens, but these countries are neither part of the EU, nor subject to the EU

Legal system

7 February 1992 (Maastricht Treaty signed establishing the European Union); 1 November 1993 (Maastricht Treaty entered into force)

note: the Treaties of Rome, signed on 25 March 1957 and subsequently entered into force on 1 January 1958, created the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy Community; a series of subsequent treaties have been adopted to increase efficiency and transparency, to prepare for new member states, and to introduce new areas of cooperation – such as a single currency; the Treaty of Lisbon, signed on 13 December 2007 and entered into force on 1 December 2009 is the most recent of these treaties and is intended to make the EU more democratic, more efficient, and better able to address global problems with one voice


Europe Day (also known as Schuman Day), 9 May (1950); note – the day in 1950 that Robert SCHUMAN proposed the creation of what became the European Coal and Steel Community, the progenitor of today’s European Union, with the aim of achieving a united Europe

Executive branch

history: none; note – the EU** legal order relies primarily on two consolidated texts encompassing all provisions as amended from a series of past treaties:** the Treaty on European Union (TEU), as modified by the 2009 Lisbon Treaty states in Article 1 that “the HIGH CONTRACTING PARTIES establish among themselves a EUROPEAN UNION … on which the Member States confer competences to attain objectives they have in common”; Article 1 of the TEU states further that the EU is “founded on the present Treaty and on the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Treaties’),” both possessing the same legal value; Article 6 of the TEU provides that a separately adopted Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union “shall have the same legal value as the Treaties”

amendments: European Union treaties can be amended in several ways: 1) Ordinary Revision Procedure (for key amendments to the treaties); initiated by an EU countrys government, by the European Parliament, or by the European Commission; following adoption of the proposal by the European Council, a convention is formed of national government representatives to review the proposal and subsequently a conference of government representatives also reviews the proposal; passage requires ratification by all EU countries; 2) Simplified Revision Procedure (for amendment of EU internal policies and actions); passage of a proposal requires unanimous European Council vote following European Council consultation with the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the European Central Bank (if the amendment concerns monetary matters) and requires ratification by all EU countries; 3) Passerelle Clause (allows the alteration of a legislative procedure without a formal amendment of the treaties); 4) Flexibility Clause (permits the EU to decide in subject areas where EU competences have not been explicitly granted in the Treaties but are necessary to the attainment of the objectives set out in the Treaty); note – the Treaty of Lisbon (signed in December 2007 and effective in December 2009) amended the two treaties that formed the EU – the Maastricht Treaty (1993) and the Treaty of Rome (1958), known in updated form as the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union

Legislative branch

unique supranational law system in which, according to an interpretive declaration of member-state governments appended to the Treaty of Lisbon, “the Treaties and the law adopted by the Union on the basis of the Treaties have primacy over the law of Member States” under conditions laid down in the case law of the Court of Justice; key principles of EU law include fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and as resulting from constitutional traditions common to the EU’s 27-member states; EU law is divided into ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ legislation; primary legislation is derived from the consolidated versions of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and are the basis for all EU action; secondary legislation – which includes directives, regulations, and decisions – is derived from the principles and objectives set out in the treaties

Judicial branch

18 years of age (16 years in Austria); universal; voting for the European Parliament is permitted in each member state

Political parties and leaders

under the EU treaties there are three distinct institutions, each of which conducts functions that may be regarded as executive in nature:
European Council – brings together heads of state and government, along with the president of the European Commission, and meets at least four times a year; its aim is to provide the impetus for the development of the Union and to issue general policy guidelines; the Treaty of Lisbon established the position of “permanent” (full-time) president of the European Council; leaders of the EU member states appoint the president for a 2 1/2 year term, renewable once; the president’s responsibilities include chairing the EU summits and providing policy and organizational continuity; the current president is Donald TUSK (Poland), since 1 December 2014, succeeding Herman VAN ROMPUY (Belgian; 2009-14)
Council of the European Commission – consists of ministers of each EU member state and meets regularly in 10 different configurations depending on the subject matter; it conducts policymaking and coordinating functions as well as legislative functions; ministers of EU member states chair meetings of the Council of the EU based on a 6-month rotating presidency except for the meetings of EU Foreign Ministers in the Foreign Affairs Council that are chaired by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
European Commission – headed by a College of Commissioners comprised of 28 members (one from each member country) including the president; each commissioner is responsible for one or more policy areas; the Commission’s main responsibilities include the sole right to initiate EU legislation (except for foreign and security/defense policy), promoting the general interest of the EU, acting as “guardian of the Treaties” by monitoring the application of EU law, implementing/executing the EU budget, managing programs, negotiating on the EU’s behalf in core policy areas such as trade, and ensuring the Union’s external representation in some policy areas; its current president is Jean-Claude JUNCKER (Luxembourg) elected on 15 July 2014 (took office on 1 November 2014); the president of the European Commission is nominated by the European Council and formally “elected” by the European Parliament; the Commission president allocates specific responsibilities among the members of the College (appointed by common accord of the member state governments in consultation with the president-elect); the European Parliament confirms the entire Commission for a 5-year term; President JUNCKER reorganized the structure of the College around clusters or project teams coordinated by 7 vice presidents in line with the current Commission’s main political priorities and appointed Frans TIMMERMANS (Netherlands) to act as his first vice president; the confirmation process for the next Commission expected be held in the fall of 2019

note: for external representation and foreign policy making, leaders of the EU member states appointed Federica MOGHERINI (Italy) as the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; MOGHERINI took office on 1 November 2014, succeeding Catherine ASHTON (UK) (2009-14); the High Representative’s concurrent appointment as Vice President of the European Commission was meant to bring more coherence to the EUs foreign policy (horizontally, between policies managed by the Commission that are particularly relevant for EU external relations, such as trade, humanitarian aid and crisis management, neighborhood policy and enlargement; and vertically, between national capitals and the EU); the High Representative helps develop and implement the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy and Common Security and Defense Policy components, chairs the Foreign Affairs Council, represents and acts for the Union in many international contexts, and oversees the European External Action Service, the diplomatic corps of the EU, established on 1 December 2010

International organization participation

description: two legislative bodies consisting of the Council of the European Union (27 seats; ministers representing the 27 member states) and the European Parliament (705 seats; seats allocated among member states roughly in proportion to population size; members elected by proportional representation to serve 5-year terms); note – the European Parliament President, Antonio TAJANI (Italian center-right), was elected in January 2017 by a majority of fellow members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and represents the Parliament within the EU and internationally; the Council of the EU and the MEPs share responsibilities for adopting the bulk of EU legislation, normally acting in co-decision on Commission proposals (but not in the area of Common Foreign and Security Policy, which is governed by consensus of the EU member state governments)

elections: last held on 23-26 May 2019 (next to be held May 2024)

election results: percent of vote – NA; seats by party (as of 31 January 2020) – EPP 187, S&D 148, ALDE/EDP 97, ID 76, Greens/EFA 67, ECR 59, GUE-NGL 40, non-inscripts 31; composition – NA

Diplomatic representation in the US

highest courts: Court of Justice of the European Union, which includes the Court of Justice (informally known as the European Court of Justice or ECJ) and the General Court (consists of 27 judges, one drawn from each member state; the ECJ includes 11 Advocates General while the General Court can include additional judges; both the ECJ and the General Court may sit in a “Grand Chamber” of 15 judges in special cases but usually in chambers of 3 to 5 judges

judge selection and term of office: judges appointed by the common consent of the member states to serve 6-year renewable terms

note: the ECJ is the supreme judicial authority of the EU; it ensures that EU law is interpreted and applied uniformly throughout the EU, resolves disputed issues among the EU institutions and with member states, and reviews issues and opinions regarding questions of EU law referred by member state courts

Diplomatic representation from the US

Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe or ALDE [Guy VERHOFSTADT]
European United Left-Nordic Green Left or GUE/NGL [Gabriele ZIMMER]
Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy or EFDD [Nigel FARAGE]
Europe of Nations and Freedom or ENF or ENL [Nicolas BAY and Marcel DE GRAAFF]
European Conservatives and Reformists or ECR [Syed KAMALL and Ryszard LEGUTKO]
European Greens/European Free Alliance or Greens/EFA [Ska KELLER, Philippe LAMBERTS]
European People’s Party or EPP [Manfred WEBER]
Identity and Democracy Party [Marco ZANNI]
Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats or S&D [Udo BULLMANN]

Flag description

ARF, ASEAN (dialogue member), Australian Group, BIS, BSEC (observer), CBSS, CERN, EBRD, FAO, FATF, G-8, G-10, G-20, IDA, IEA, IGAD (partners), LAIA (observer), NSG (observer), OAS (observer), OECD, PIF (partner), SAARC (observer), SICA (observer), UN (observer), UNRWA (observer), WCO, WTO, ZC (observer)

National symbol(s)

Ambassador David O’SULLIVAN (since 18 November 2014)
chancery: 2175 K Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20037

telephone: 1 862-9500

FAX: 1 429-1766

National anthem

chief of mission: Ambassador Gordon SONDLAND (since 9 July 2018)

telephone: 32 811-4100

embassy: 13 Zinnerstraat/Rue Zinner, B-1000 Brussels

mailing address: use embassy street address

FAX: 32 811-5154

Economy :: European Union

Economy – overview

The 27 member states that make up the EU have adopted an internal single market with free movement of goods, services, capital, and labor. The EU, which is also a customs union, aims to bolster Europe’s trade position and its political and economic weight in international affairs.

Despite great differences in per capita income among member states (from $28,000 to $109,000) and in national attitudes toward issues like inflation, debt, and foreign trade, the EU has achieved a high degree of coordination of monetary and fiscal policies. A common currency the euro circulates among 19 of the member states that make up the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Eleven member states introduced the euro as their common currency on 1 January 1999 (Greece did so two years later). Since 2004, 13 states acceded to the EU. Of the 13, Slovenia (2007), Cyprus and Malta (2008), Slovakia (2009), Estonia (2011), Latvia (2014), and Lithuania (2015) have adopted the euro; seven other member states – excluding Denmark, which has a formal opt-out – are required by EU treaties to adopt the common currency upon meeting fiscal and monetary convergence criteria.

The EU economy posted moderate GDP growth for 2014 through 2017, capping five years of sustained growth since the 2008-09 global economic crisis and the ensuing sovereign debt crisis in the euro zone in 2011. However, the blocs recovery was uneven. Some EU member states (Czechia, Ireland, Malta, Romania, Sweden, and Spain) recorded strong growth, others (Italy) experienced modest expansion, and Greece finally ended its EU rescue program in August 2018. Overall, the EUs recovery was buoyed by lower commodities prices and accommodative monetary policy, which lowered interest rates and stimulated demand. The euro zone, which makes up about 70% of the total EU economy, performed well, achieving a growth rate not seen in a decade. In October 2017 the European Central Bank (ECB) announced it would extend its bond-buying program through September 2018, and possibly beyond that date, to keep the euro zone recovery on track. The ECBs efforts to spur more lending and investment through its asset-buying program, negative interest rates, and long-term loan refinancing programs have not yet raised inflation in line with the ECBs statutory target of just under 2%.

Despite its performance, high unemployment in some member states, high levels of public and private debt, muted productivity, an incomplete single market in services, and an aging population remain sources of potential drag on the EUs future growth. Moreover, the EU economy remains vulnerable to a slowdown of global trade and bouts of political and financial turmoil. In June 2016, the UK voted to withdraw from the EU, the first member country ever to attempt to secede. Continued uncertainty about the implications of the UKs exit from the EU (concluded January 2020) could hurt consumer and investor confidence and dampen EU growth, particularly if trade and cross-border investment significantly declines. Political disagreements between EU member states on reforms to fiscal and economic policy also may impair the EUs ability to bolster its crisis-prevention and resolution mechanisms. International investors fears of a broad dissolution of the single currency area have largely dissipated, but these concerns could resurface if elected leaders implement policies that contravene euro-zone budget or banking rules. State interventions in ailing banks, including rescue of banks in Italy and resolution of banks in Spain, have eased financial vulnerabilities in the European banking sector even though some banks are struggling with low profitability and a large stock of bad loans, fragilities that could precipitate localized crises. Externally, the EU has continued to pursue comprehensive free trade agreements to expand EU external market share, particularly with Asian countries; EU and Japanese leaders reached a political-level agreement on a free trade agreement in July 2017, and agreement with Mexico in April 2018 on updates to an existing free trade agreement.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$20.85 trillion (2017 est.)
$20.38 trillion (2016 est.)
$19.98 trillion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$17.11 trillion (2017 est.)

GDP – real growth rate

2.3% (2017 est.)
2% (2016 est.)
2.3% (2015 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP)

$40,900 (2017 est.)
$39,400 (2016 est.)
$38,200 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

Gross national saving

22.7% of GDP (2017 est.)
22.2% of GDP (2016 est.)
22% of GDP (2015 est.)

GDP – composition, by end use

household consumption: 54.4% (2016 est.)

government consumption: 20.4% (2016 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 19.8% (2016 est.)

investment in inventories: 0.4% (2016 est.)

exports of goods and services: 43.9% (2016 est.)

imports of goods and services: -40.5% (2016 est.)

GDP – composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 1.6% (2017 est.)

industry: 25.1% (2017 est.)

services: 70.9% (2017 est.)

Agriculture – products

wheat, barley, oilseeds, sugar beets, wine, grapes; dairy products, cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry; fish


among 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

Industrial production growth rate

3.5% (2017 est.)

Labor force

238.9 million (2016 est.)

Labor force – by occupation

agriculture: 5%

industry: 21.9%

services: 73.1% (2014 est.)

Unemployment rate

8.6% (2016 est.)
9.4% (2015 est.)

Population below poverty line

9.8% (2013 est.)

note: see individual country entries of member states

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 23.8% (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

45.2% (of GDP) (2014)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-3% (of GDP) (2014)

Public debt

86.8% of GDP (2014)
85.5% of GDP (2013)

Fiscal year


Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1.5% (2017 est.)
1.1% (2016 est.)

Current account balance

$404.9 billion (2017 est.)
$359.7 billion (2016 est.)


$1.929 trillion (2016 est.)
$1.985 trillion (2015 est.)

note: external exports, excluding intra-EU trade

Exports – partners

United States 20.7%, China 9.6%, Switzerland 8.1%, Turkey 4.4%, Russia 4.1% (2016 est.)

Exports – commodities

machinery, motor vehicles, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, fuels, aircraft, plastics, iron and steel, wood pulp and paper products, alcoholic beverages, furniture


$1.895 trillion (2016 est.)
$1.92 trillion (2015 est.)

note: external imports, excluding intra-EU trade

Imports – commodities

fuels and crude oil, machinery, vehicles, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, precious gemstones, textiles, aircraft, plastics, metals, ships

Imports – partners

China 20.1%, United States 14.5%, Switzerland 7.1%, Russia 6.3% (2016 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$740.9 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$746.9 billion (31 December 2013)

note: data are for the European Central Bank

Debt – external

$29.27 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
$28.68 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)

Exchange rates

euros per US dollar –
0.885 (2017 est.)
0.903 (2016 est.)
0.9214 (2015 est.)
0.885 (2014 est.)
0.7634 (2013 est.)

Energy :: European Union

Electricity – production

3.043 trillion kWh (2015 est.)

Electricity – consumption

2.845 trillion kWh (2015 est.)

Electricity – exports

390 billion kWh (2015 est.)

Electricity – imports

397 billion kWh (2015 est.)

Electricity – installed generating capacity

975 million kW (2015 est.)

Electricity – from fossil fuels

44% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)

Electricity – from nuclear fuels

12% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)

Electricity – from hydroelectric plants

11% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)

Electricity – from other renewable sources

44% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)

Crude oil – production

1.488 million bbl/day (2016 est.)

Crude oil – proved reserves

5.1 billion bbl (2016 est.)

Refined petroleum products – production

11.66 million bbl/day (2016 est.)

Refined petroleum products – consumption

12.89 million bbl/day (2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products – exports

2.196 million bbl/day (2017 est.)

Refined petroleum products – imports

8.613 million bbl/day (2017 est.)

Natural gas – production

118.2 billion cu m (2016 est.)

Natural gas – consumption

428.8 billion cu m (2016 est.)

Natural gas – exports

93.75 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas – imports

420.6 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas – proved reserves

1.3 trillion cu m (1 January 2017 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

3.475 billion Mt (2015 est.)

Communications :: European Union

Telephones – fixed lines

total subscriptions: 210,621,546

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 4 (2017 est.)

Telephones – mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 625,000,799

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 121 (2017 est.)

Telecommunication systems

note – see individual country entries of member states

Internet country code

.eu; note – see country entries of member states for individual country codes

Internet users

total: 398.1 million (2018 est.)

percent of population: 85%

Broadband – fixed subscriptions

total: 174,634,171

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 3 (2017)

Military and Security :: European Union

Military expenditures

1.5% of GDP (2018)
1.49% of GDP (2017)
1.48% of GDP (2016)
1.48% of GDP (2015)
1.5% of GDP (2014)

Military deployments

180 Central African Republic (EUTM); 600 Bosnia-Herzegovina (EUTM); 700 Mali (EUTM); 200 Somalia (EUTM)

Military – note

the current five-nation Eurocorps, formally established in 1992 and activated the following year, began in 1987 as a French-German Brigade; Belgium (1993), Spain (1994), and Luxembourg (1996) joined over the next few years; five additional countries participate in Eurocorps as associated nations: Greece, Poland, and Turkey (since 2002), Italy and Romania (joined in 2009 and 2016 respectively); Eurocorps consists of approximately 1,000 troops at its headquarters in Strasbourg, France and the 5,000-man Franco-German Brigade; Eurocorps has deployed troops and police on NATO peacekeeping missions to Bosnia-Herzegovina (1998-2000), Kosovo (2000), and Afghanistan (2004-05 and 2012); Eurocorps has been involved in EU operations to Mali (2015) and the Central African Republic (2016-17) (2019)

Transportation :: European Union

National air transport system

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 636,860,155 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 31,730,660,000 (2018)

Airports – with paved runways

total: 1,882 (2017)

over 3,047 m: 120 (2017)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 341 (2017)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 507 (2017)

914 to 1,523 m: 425 (2017)

under 914 m: 489 (2017)

Airports – with unpaved runways

total: 1,244 (2013)

over 3,047 m: 1 (2013)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 15 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 245 (2013)

under 914 m: 982 (2013)


90 (2013)


total: 230,548 km (2013)


total: 10,582,653 km (2013)


53,384 km (2013)

Ports and terminals

major port(s): Antwerp (Belgium), Barcelona (Spain), Braila (Romania), Bremen (Germany), Burgas (Bulgaria), Constanta (Romania), Copenhagen (Denmark), Galati (Romania), Gdansk (Poland), Hamburg (Germany), Helsinki (Finland), Las Palmas (Canary Islands, Spain), Le Havre (France), Lisbon (Portugal), Marseille (France), Naples (Italy), Peiraiefs or Piraeus (Greece), Riga (Latvia), Rotterdam (Netherlands), Split (Croatia), Stockholm (Sweden), Talinn (Estonia), Tulcea (Romania), Varna (Bulgaria)

Transnational Issues :: European Union

Disputes – international

as a political union, the EU has no border disputes with neighboring countries, but Estonia has no land boundary agreements with Russia, Slovenia disputes its land and maritime boundaries with Croatia, and Spain has territorial and maritime disputes with Morocco and with the UK over Gibraltar; the EU has set up a Schengen area – consisting of 22 EU member states that have signed the convention implementing the Schengen agreements or “acquis” (1985 and 1990) on the free movement of persons and the harmonization of border controls in Europe; these agreements became incorporated into EU law with the implementation of the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam on 1 May 1999; in addition, non-EU states Iceland and Norway (as part of the Nordic Union) have been included in the Schengen area since 1996 (full members in 2001), Switzerland since 2008, and Liechtenstein since 2011 bringing the total current membership to 26; the UK (since 2000) and Ireland (since 2002) take part in only some aspects of the Schengen area, especially with respect to police and criminal matters; nine of the 13 new member states that joined the EU since 2004 joined Schengen on 21 December 2007; of the four remaining EU states, Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia are obligated to eventually join, while Cyprus’ entry is held up by the ongoing Cyprus dispute


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