Measuring the EU’s economy
With 12 new member countries joining since 2004, the EU’s GDP — output of goods and services — is now bigger than that of the US:
- GDP (€12,268,387 million 2010)
With just 7% of the world’s population, the EU's trade with the rest of the world accounts for around 20% of global exports and imports. The EU is the world’s biggest exporter and the second-biggest importer.
Around two thirds of EU countries’ total trade is done with other EU countries.
The United States is the EU’s most important trading partner, followed by China. In 2005, the EU accounted for 18.1% of world exports and 18.9% of imports.
Over the past 50 years, employment in agriculture and industry has fallen, while more and more people now have a job in the service sector.
Unemployment has increased in the wake of the recent economic and financial crisis and now stands at 7.5% in the EU.
Research and development (R&D) lies at the heart of the EU’s strategy to make its economy more competitive. The aim is to invest more to bring its R&D spending in line with that of the United States and Japan.
Railways and inland waterways (rivers and canals) account for just a small percentage of total freight and passenger traffic in the EU. Three quarters of all goods and passengers in the EU are now transported by road.
Energy and environment
The EU depends on imports for more than 50% of its energy needs.
To reduce this dependence and protect the environment, the EU is striving to use energy more efficiently and use more renewable sources. The EU has set a target of generating 20% of its electricity from renewable sources such as wind, the sun, water, geothermal plants and biomass by 2020.