The Government and Politics of the European Union

Seventh edition

by Neill Nugent


Population 59.6 m
Capital Rome
Surface area 295,100 km2
Official Languages Italian
Gross domestic product (GDP) (in euros) 1,404 bn
GDP as a % of EU-27, based on 2009 data 12.7
GDP per capita by purchasing power standards (indexed to EU average of 100) 100.6
Currency Euro
Human development index (HDI), an index based on life expectancy, education and GDP (max. 1) 0.941
World rank in HDI 20/177
Key economic sectors (% of GDP in 2002) Services (70.1); industry (27.3); agriculture (2.6)
Leading Companies Eni (oil); Intesa Sanpaolo (bank); Uni Credito Italiano (bank)
Unemployment in January 2010 8.6% (source:
Main religious denominations Roman Catholic (46.26); Muslim (0.68)
Political system A parliamentary republic, with a bicameral legislature the chambers of which are elected simultaneously. The Chamber of Deputies is directly elected; the Senate is elected on a regional basis. A President can appoint up to 11 Senators for life, and has the power to dissolve parliament except in the last six months of a parliamentary term.
Electoral system Party list proportional representation for elections to the Chamber of Deputies.
Current (March 2010) leaders Prime minister: Silvio Berlusconi (b. 1936), since February 2008
Previous leaders: Prime ministers: Ulivo Romano Prodi (2006-08); Silvio Berlusconi (2001-06); Giuliano Amato (2000-01); Massimo D’Alema (1998-2000)
Joined the EU/EC 1957 (founder member)
Commissioner from country in Barroso II College of Commissioners, and portfolio Antonio Tajani (Industry and Entrepreneurship, Vice President of the Commission)
Number of MEPs 73/754
Turnout in 2009 EP elections (%) 66.5
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