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Redefining Europe
 Introduction
The political and economic shape of Europe is changing. Twelve of the 15 EU members have joined the single currency, the euro. Internal borders have been abolished in nine countries. But with some countries dragging their feet, there have been calls for faster integration for a core group.

Click on the map to find out each member's attitudes towards deeper political integration and the single currency.

 UK: EU (not euro)
The UK government hopes to be "at the heart of Europe" despite staying, for now, outside the eurozone. It will tolerate "enhanced co-operation" between some states in some spheres, but opposes a "two-speed" Europe. The UK fears that a planned Charter of Fundamental Rights could become an embryonic European constitution.
 UK: EU (not euro)
The UK public is deeply euro-sceptic. About 70% believe euro membership is inevitable, but up to two-thirds are against joining. The business community is split; many multinationals, foreign investors and trade unions are in favour of the single currency, small firms and retailers tend to be against. In 1998 the UK economy narrowly avoided a recession, but is now growing at 2.5-3%. The weak euro and high interest rates keep inflation down, but harm UK exporters.
 UK: EU (not euro)
Population (millions)
59.3

GDP ($bn)
1400

GDP per head ($ thousand)
23,900

Unemployment
6%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
60.7
 Denmark: EU (not euro)
Danish society is deeply divided on Europe. In a 1992 referendum, the Maastricht Treaty was narrowly rejected -then passed the next year after several Danish opt-outs were agreed. In September 2000, Danish voters narrowly rejected joining the single currency. Analysts interpreted the vote as being less about economics and more about national sovereignty and closer European integration.
 Denmark: EU (not euro)
Denmark has voted not to join monetary union. Many voters feared the euro might do away with their generous welfare state, but most parties, employers and trade unions continue to be big fans of the single currency and there could well be a second referendum. Denmark's currency, the krone, has been pegged to the single currency since the euro's launch. To support its currency and fight inflation Denmark had to raise its interest rate, but the economy is slowly getting back on track for growth.
 Denmark: EU (not euro)
Population (millions)
5.3

GDP ($bn)
174.3

GDP per head ($ thousand)
32,796

Unemployment
4.7%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
66.5
 Sweden: EU (not euro)
Sweden's government may have difficulty persuading a largely euro-sceptical electorate of the benefits of monetary and economic union. Like the UK, the government is reluctant to give a timetable for joining, and may hold a referendum first. Sweden and Finland strongly favour enlargement, because of their proximity to Poland and the Baltic states.
 Sweden: EU (not euro)
Sweden's voters are increasingly euro-sceptic again and have ignored the country's large export industry, which is pressing hard for euro membership. The economy is booming with growth a massive 4.5% and the stock market one of the world's best performers during 1999. But the kronor has been volatile and inflationary threats could soon force the central bank to raise interest rates sharply.
 Sweden: EU (not euro)
Population (millions)
8.8

GDP ($bn)
227.2

GDP per head ($ thousand)
25,613

Unemployment
4.9%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
55.6
 Greece: EU (eurozone)
On January 2001, Greece became the twelfth member of the eurozone. The Greek government supports EU enlargement, and is pressing hard for Cyprus's admission, however it stands to receive less EU aid as other poor countries join. Anti-Turkish, and pro-Serbian, Greece may frustrate moves towards a single EU foreign policy.
 Greece: EU (eurozone)
Years of budget cuts and fiscal discipline have paid off, and Greece has been part of the eurozone since 1 January 2001. Despite the social pain, about two-thirds of voters are in favour of the euro. The prospect of euro membership was enough to boost investment and especially growth, which is now expected to weigh in at 3.5%. However, some EU partners worry about an overhang of public debt and the threat of inflation.
 Greece: EU (eurozone)
Population (millions)
10.5

GDP ($bn)
169.3

GDP per head ($ thousand)
16,000

Unemployment
10%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
50
 Ireland: EU (eurozone)
Ireland has always been pro-European, partly to avoid dependence on the UK, and partly because it was for many years a net recipient of EU aid. Ireland is worried that institutional reforms might weaken the role of the European Commission, putting more power in the hands of larger member states.
 Ireland: EU (eurozone)
Dubbed the Celtic tiger, Ireland is the EU's fastest-growing economy, with growth rates of up to 10%. The government hopes eurozone membership will reduce the republic's dependence on the UK economy. Already, many US high-tech firms are using Ireland as their English-speaking springboard into Euroland. On the downside, the eurozone's low interest rate has pushed inflation to a 15-year high, although higher tobacco taxes account for a hefty chunk of that.
 Ireland: EU (eurozone)
Population (millions)
3.7

GDP ($bn)
93.9

GDP per head ($ thousand)
25,042

Unemployment
3.8%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
60.9
 Finland: EU (eurozone)
Finland was the only Nordic country to join the European Monetary Union, in 1998 - three years after it joined the EU. It is concerned about the idea of a two-speed Europe, and would like to bolster the EU's "northern dimension" to balance the strength of the Mediterranean group of members.
 Finland: EU (eurozone)
Finland boasts one of Europe's most successful economies, having shifted its markets from Eastern Europe to the West. Being a member of the eurozone has brought stability to the country's economy, with firms like Nokia leading an export boom. Growth rates of up to 5.5% are giving the government a massive budget surplus. But with low interest rates, inflation is creeping in and the economy is in danger of overheating.
 Finland: EU (eurozone)
Population (millions)
5.17

GDP ($bn)
128.7

GDP per head ($ thousand)
24,900

Unemployment
9.1%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
57.8
 Netherlands: EU (eurozone)
The Netherlands is committed to European integration. The country hosted the negotiations that resulted in the Maastricht and Amsterdam treaties, and is a net contributor to the EU's budget. While the Netherlands favours enlargement, it is concerned about the strain this may put on EU institutions.
 Netherlands: EU (eurozone)
Tax reforms and a weak euro have boosted the Dutch economy. The figures sound too good to be true, with an unemployment rate of about 2% and economic growth at about 4%. However, there is a risk the economy could overheat, unless rising eurozone interest rates put a dampener on the party. The Dutch have happily ditched their guilder, although their euro enthusiasm is not as strong as it once was.
 Netherlands: EU (eurozone)
Population (millions)
15.89

GDP ($bn)
437.2

GDP per head ($ thousand)
27,500

Unemployment
2.4%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
77.3
 Germany: EU (eurozone)
Of all EU countries Germany is the most prepared for a profound shift in political power - there is widespread support for some form of European federation. The government is in favour of enlargement, but the people - especially in the East - are concerned about a possible influx of Central European immigrants.
 Germany: EU (eurozone)
After years of slow growth, the German economy is gathering speed again. The feeble euro has boosted its all-important export industry, and the economy is expected to grow by about 3%. The government is rolling out reforms much demanded by investors, but unemployment remains stubbornly high. The German public has lost enthusiasm for the euro, its weakness cutting deep into travel budgets in sharp contrast with the strong Deutschmark.
 Germany: EU (eurozone)
Population (millions)
82.2

GDP ($bn)
2100

GDP per head ($ thousand)
24,900

Unemployment
7.7%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
57.7
 Belgium: EU (eurozone)
Belgium, a founding member of the EEC in 1957, is the home of the European Commission - the executive arm of the EU. As a small country, Belgium stands to lose influence in the EU as a result of institutional reforms. It is one of several countries driving a market liberalisation agenda.
 Belgium: EU (eurozone)
Belgium's economy is at the heart of Euroland, and its people are in favour of the single currency. The economic recovery of Germany and France is boosting the economy, with Belgium's gross domestic product now growing at a rate of at least 3.5%. Unemployment is falling and the government budget is projected to go into surplus in 2001.
 Belgium: EU (eurozone)
Population (millions)
10.2

GDP ($bn)
269

GDP per head ($ thousand)
24,343

Unemployment
6.8%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
75.7
 Luxembourg: EU (eurozone)
Luxembourg is one of three EU "capitals" - the home of the European Court of Justice, the Court of Auditors, and the European Investment Bank. The small country has provided two EC presidents, and is strongly pro-European, though it has fought proposed banking rules that would threaten its status as a tax haven.
 Luxembourg: EU (eurozone)
Luxembourg is one of the richest countries in the world, with low unemployment, very low inflation but bullish economic growth of 5.5% and higher. The economic strength is a reflection of improving fortunes in neighbouring countries, and with one of the EU's most pro-European populations, the country is in favour of the single currency as well.
 Luxembourg: EU (eurozone)
Population (millions)
0.44

GDP ($bn)
19.9

GDP per head ($ thousand)
45,000

Unemployment
2.9%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
84.2
 France: EU (eurozone)
There is a growing consensus in France in favour of accelerated integration - though not a European superstate. France favours a two-speed Europe, to prevent less enthusiastic or developed states holding others back. Its Socialist government - though not its Gaullist president - is less keen on market liberalisation than on promoting social partnership.
 France: EU (eurozone)
After narrowly approving the single currency, the French turned into euro enthusiasts, although public support has recently been slipping. Industry leaders and politicians, however, credit the weak euro with reviving the country's economy, with growth rates of 4% and more. Investment is up, unemployment down and structural reforms are slowly transforming the country's once sluggish economy.
 France: EU (eurozone)
Population (millions)
59

GDP ($bn)
1400

GDP per head ($ thousand)
23,200

Unemployment
8.5%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
57.8
 Austria: EU (eurozone)
Austria's relations with the EU were severely strained after some states imposed sanctions in protest at the far-right Freedom Party entering government in February 2000. However, the sanctions began to look counter-productive after Austrian ministers threatened to hold up EU internal reforms if they were not lifted. They also created strong anti-EU feeling in Austria and other EU countries. They were lifted in September.
 Austria: EU (eurozone)
Austrians are no fans of the euro, but this is mainly driven by unhappiness over the EU's quarrel with their government. Economically, Austria has done well in the eurozone. After a brief slump in 1999, the economy is picking up again, driven by a thriving export industry. The weak euro has boosted the vital tourism sector. With unemployment low and economic growth at about 3%, the only worry is a need for fiscal discipline.
 Austria: EU (eurozone)
Population (millions)
8.1

GDP ($bn)
211

GDP per head ($ thousand)
26,000

Unemployment
3.7%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
63.1
 Italy: EU (eurozone)
Italy's government is divided on the question of a two-speed Europe, in which core countries would forge ahead towards deeper integration - once again, shaky domestic politics are limiting its contribution to EU policy debate. As a trading nation Italy has benefited from membership of the Euro-zone, helping to consolidate pro-European public opinion.
 Italy: EU (eurozone)
An export boom has turned Italy's stuttering economy into a good performer, and imposed some much-needed fiscal discipline on the country's government. Economic growth will reach close to 3%, the number of jobless is falling, and the Italian public is still enthusiastic over euro membership. However, worried about inflationary pressure, Italy's EU partners are keeping a close watch on the government's spending plans and public deficit.
 Italy: EU (eurozone)
Population (millions)
57.7

GDP ($bn)
1170

GDP per head ($ thousand)
24,400

Unemployment
10.1%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
54.9
 Spain: EU (eurozone)
Spain is a committed EU member, and one of a group of countries, including the UK, which has pushed for market liberalisation. These countries also seek to restrict the dominance of Germany and France. Spain tends to be sceptical about the benefits of EU enlargement.
 Spain: EU (eurozone)
Economic reforms and linking up with the eurozone have done wonders for corporate Spain. Once an economic backwater, it is now home to aggressive phone, internet and banking giants that ride the eurozone's bond market. Economic growth stands at about 4% and unemployment - although still high - is falling steadily. The cheap euro and high oil prices have pushed the inflation rate to 3%, and risk an overheating of the economy.
 Spain: EU (eurozone)
Population (millions)
39.4

GDP ($bn)
762.9

GDP per head ($ thousand)
19,300

Unemployment
13.1%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
70.6
 Portugal: EU (eurozone)
Most Portuguese are pro-European, possibly because Portugal has traditionally been a large recipient of EU funds. The country's strongest political parties support a federal Europe, but others object loudly to further integration. As a country with low-cost manufacturing, Portugal will be faced by new rivals as a result of EU enlargement.
 Portugal: EU (eurozone)
EU membership has given Portugal a radical overhaul of its infrastructure, and its economy is now enjoying the seventh year of expansion, with growth rates of 3.5%. The weak euro has made sure that the economic boom continues, while buoyant tax revenues keep the government deficit under control. Like in many smaller countries at the eurozone periphery, e.g. Finland and Ireland, low interest rates are pushing up inflation.
 Portugal: EU (eurozone)
Population (millions)
9.98

GDP ($bn)
157.7

GDP per head ($ thousand)
17,600

Unemployment
4.0%

Exports within EU
(as % of total national exports)
83.2
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