The Government and Politics of the European Union

Seventh edition

by Neill Nugent


Population 63.8m
Capital Paris
Surface area 544,000 km2
Official Language French
Gross domestic product (GDP) (in euros) 1,678 bn
GDP as a % of EU-27, based on 2009 data 12.8
GDP per capita by purchasing power standards (indexed to EU average of 100) 107.4
Currency Euro
Human development index (HDI), an index based on life expectancy, education and GDP (max. 1) 0.952
World rank in HDI 10/177
Key economic sectors Services (72.4); industry (24.9); agriculture (2.7)
Leading Companies Total (oil); EDF (energy provider); ArcelorMittal (steel)
Unemployment in January 2010 9.7% (source:
Main religious denominations (numbers in thousands) Roman Catholic (38.69); Muslim (4.18); Protestant (0.72); Jewish (0.59)
Political system Semi-presidential: The President is directly elected every five years, and appoints a prime minister and cabinet accountable to a National Assembly, elections to which are held every five years.
Electoral system Two-ballot, majoritarian system for presidential elections; second ballet system for elections to National Assembly
Current (March 2010) leaders President: Nicolas Sarkozy (b. 1955), since May 2007
Prime minister: François Fillon (b. 1954), since May 2007
Previous leaders: Presidents: Jacques Chirac (1995-2007); François Mitterand (1981-95)
Prime ministers: Dominique de Villepin (2005-07); Jean-Pierre Raffarin (2002-05); Lionel Jospin (1997-2002)
Joined the EU/EC 1957 (founder member)
Commissioner from country in Barroso II College of Commissioners, and portfolio Michel Barnier (Internal Market and Services)
Number of MEPs 74/754
Turnout in 2009 EP elections (%) 40.1
Member of eurozone Yes (founder member)

Except where a specific reference is inserted, the sources for this profile are either Neill Nugent’s book itself, or Barry Turner (ed.), The Statesman’s Yearbook Online, Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan. If your library subscribes, you can gain access at