The modern European Union began in 1951 with an economic cooperation agreement between six western European nations: Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Today, the European Union is composed of 28 member states (including the United Kingdom) and has a total territory of almost 4.5 million square kilometers, compared to the 9.8 million square kilometers that make up the United States.
The European Union and the United States
Including almost every country in Western Europe, with the exception of Norway and Switzerland, the European Union has a varied landscape and a seasonal climate that goes from Mediterranean in the south to subarctic in the north. Likewise, the EU has 62.993 kilometers of coastline along the Black, Mediterranean, and North Seas as well as the Atlantic Ocean. Currently, the European Union has an aggregate population of 517 million citizens with an average age of 43 years, compared to 327 million citizens in the United States with an average age of 38 years. Furthermore, both the United States and the European Union have an average life expectancy of 80 years. In terms of urbanization, the largest cities within the European Union are London, Berlin, Madrid, Rome, and Paris.
The European Union’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) is US$20.9 trillion (PPP) and the regional economy has experienced positive growth upwards of 2.0% in recent years. The EU’s economy is divided into 2% agriculture, 25% manufacturing, and 73% services. Meanwhile, the regional labor force is divided into 5% working in the agriculture industry, 22% working in the industrial sector, and 73% working in services. In terms of natural resources, the EU has iron ore, natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, lead, zinc, bauxite, uranium, potash, salt, hydropower, arable land, and timber. Within manufacturing, the regional industry is extremely technologically advanced and focused on metal production and processing, metal products, cement, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, rail transportation equipment, industrial equipment, shipbuilding, electrical power equipment, and telecommunications equipment, amongst others. Simultaneously, the EU’s agricultural industry has as main products wheat, barley, oilseeds, sugar beets, wine, grapes, dairy products, cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry, and fish.
In terms of trade, the European Union is the world’s leading trade bloc, both in terms of intra-EU and extra-EU commercial activity. During 2016, the European Union imported US$1.9 trillion worth of goods from outside of the EU and also exported US$1.9 trillion (also extra-EU), resulting in a trade surplus of US$34 billion. Furthermore, that same year, the region’s main exports were machinery, motor vehicles, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, fuels, aircraft, plastics, iron and steel, wood pulp, and paper products. On the other hand, the main imports were fuels, crude oil, machinery, vehicles, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, precious gemstones, textiles, aircraft, plastics, metals, and ships. Meanwhile, the EU’s main trading partners are the United States, China, Russia, and Switzerland.