The Government and Politics of the European Union

Seventh edition

by Neill Nugent


Population 82.2 m
Capital Berlin
Surface area 357,000 km2
Official Language German
Gross domestic product (GDP) (in euros) 2,338 bn
GDP as a % of EU-27, based on 2009 data 20
GDP per capita by purchasing power standards (indexed to EU average of 100) 116.1
Currency Euro
Human development index (HDI), an index based on life expectancy, education and GDP (max. 1) 0.935
World rank in HDI 22/177
Key economic sectors Services (69.2); industry (29.6); agriculture (1.2)
Leading Companies E.On (energy service provider); Volkswagen (automobile manufacturer); Siemens AG (electronic and electric equipment)
Unemployment in January 2010 7.5% (source:
Main religious denominations (numbers in millions) Roman Catholic (25.46); Protestant (24.83); Muslim (3.1 – 3.4); Jewish (0. 11)
Significant minority ethnic groups Turkish
Political system A parliamentary federal republic, with a directly elected lower house (Bundestag) and an upper house representing the states. Governments are usually consociational, led by the chancellor.
Electoral system Mixed member proportional system for the Bundestag; members of the upper house are nominated by the assemblies of the states
Current leaders Chancellor Angela Merkel (b. 1954), since 2005
Prime minister: François Fillon (b. 1954), since May 2007
Previous leaders: Chancellors: Gerhard Schröder (1998-2005); Helmut Kohl (1990-1998)
Joined the EU/EC 1957 (founder member)
Commissioner from country in Barroso II College of Commissioners, and portfolio Gunter Oettinger (Energy)
Number of MEPs 99/754
Turnout in 2009 EP elections (%) 43.3
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