Tuesday, 18 August 2009

How Does the European Union Measure up to other Unions of States in the world?

With a GDP of 18, 394 billion USD, The European Union (EU) is the largest and most economically powerful union of states in the world nowadays. But how does the EU trading power compare to other union of states in the world and historically?


Photo source: Wikimedia commons

Some EU Performance Indicators:
  • World market share of EU is 18.4% - decreasing 1.7% in the last 10 years
  • The free European Health Insurance Card gives health services to over 160 million people
  • Gender equality - 59% of university graduates are women
  • Increased mobility for travel and for work - no visas or passport controls among Schengen countries
  • Fight against discrimination - 1 in 3 EU residents have witnessed and 1 in 7 have experienced discrimination
  • Fatal workplace accidents have decreased 17% in this decade
  • Cleaner environment - EU leads the 'Kyoto' protocol

Continental Unions in the World Today




Currently, there are three continental unions in the world today. The EU, the African Union, and the Union of South American Nations. Of these only the EU has no borders among most member states, a common currency, common foreign policy, common parliament and laws (though each member state retains their own parliaments, laws and foreign policies).

  • Union State of Russia and Belarus is a loose marriage between Russian Federation and Belarus. Both countries seem to have got tired of the marriage and still have customs borders.
  • The Commonwealth of Independent States was created from the debris of the Soviet Union but is much looser than the EU. 277 million people living in 22 million km2 earn $6,110 per capita gdp in 11 currencies.
  • In the African Union 850 million people living in 29, 757 million km2, speaking 2000 languages, earn $ 1,896 per capita gdp in 53 different currencies.
  • In the EU 500 million people speaking 23 languages, living in 4,3 million km2 earn $30,513 per capita gdp in Euros in 16 countries, while 11 countries have their own currencies.

Historical Share of World GDP

The economic historian Angus Maddison of the University of Groningen in his work The World Economy: Historical Statistics gives a perspective in historical share of world GDP per region.



100 AD

1000 AD
Some changes from 100 AD: A new player called the Islamic Caliphate has 18.5%, Japan has doubled its share and the Roman Empire has disappeared.


1870 AD
More changes: The British Empire's share is the dominant now and USA is rising.



1998 AD
Current situation: The British Empire has vanished, giving top place to USA. China is retaking its place high up. India is also sluggishly ascending back.



How Does The EU Compare With historical Empires

Alexander the Great’s Hellenic empire at its largest around 323 B.C. Much smaller than the current EU.


The Roman Empire at its largest 118 A.D. is almost the same size as the EU today.


Charlemagne’s empire at its largest around 800 A.D. is a tiny affair compared to the EU today.


Unions of States Proposed and In the Process
  • The Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) with 31 member states was created in 2002 to promote Asian cooperation at a continental level, combining ASEAN, SAARC or the Gulf Cooperation Council. Non-members are Afghanistan, North Korea, Iraq, Israel, Turkey etc.
  • The Union of South American Nations plans to integrate Mercosur and the Andean Community of Nations in the EU model by eliminating tariffs by 2019.
  • Six Arab states in the Persian Gulf have planned the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf trade bloc.
  • The NAU (North American Union) of Canada, Mexico and United States, with a common currency Amero is just a proposal and bête noire of conspiracy theories.
Trivia Statistics from EU
  • 50% of energy used in EU comes from outside EU. Only one country, Denmark exports energy.
  • 24% of the world’s milk production comes from the EU
  • Tallinn, Estonia has the highest percentage of non-EU residents 27.8%.
  • The UK puts 139 people out of 100 000 in its national population to prison, while India puts 28 and the United States 686.
  • The land area covered by forests increased in the EU by 4.8% between 1990-2005.
  • Denmark, Finland and Sweden; countries consistently in the top 5 places of least corruption in the world according to Transparency International have been the choice destinations of refugees from Somalia, the country persistently occupying the bottom rung.
Photo source:
What is the Phone Number of the EU?


"Who do I call if I want to speak to Europe?" - Henry Kissinger is supposed to have said this once. This is totally apocryphal, he never said it. 
According to Financial Times 
"Kissinger’s concern was the precise opposite – he was fed up with having to deal with a Dane whom he regarded as incompetent and ineffective, who was trying to represent the whole of the EU as President of the Council. "
The direct phone number of the EU is 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11
  • from anywhere in the EU
  • 9.00-18.00 CET (weekdays)
  • in any official EU language.
Enjoy your call to the EU!

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