The Government and Politics of the European Union

Seventh edition

by Neill Nugent


Population 16.4 m
Capital Amsterdam
Surface area 33,800 km2
Official Language Dutch, and Frisian in the province of Friesland
Gross domestic product (GDP) (in euros) 515 bn
GDP as a % of EU-27, based on 2009 data 4.6
GDP per capita by purchasing power standards (indexed to EU average of 100) 135.0
Currency Euro
Human development index (HDI), an index based on life expectancy, education and GDP (max. 1) 0.953
World rank in HDI 9/177
Key economic sectors (% of GDP in 2002) Services (71.4); industry (25.9); agriculture (2.7)
Leading Companies Unilever (Dutch/British consumer goods firm); ING (life insurance)
Unemployment in January 2010 4.0% (source:
Main religious denominations (% of over 12s) Roman Catholic (30); Dutch Reformed (11); Calvinist (6)
Political system A constitutional monarchy, in which the central legislative power is vested in the two chambers of Parliament. The First Chamber of these is elected by the members of the provincial states; the Second Chamber is directly elected.
Electoral system Proportional representation for the Second Chamber. Members are elected for four-year terms.
Current leaders Prime minister: Jan Peter Balkenende (b. 1956), since July 2002
Previous leaders: Prime ministers: Willen Kok (1994-2002); Rudolphus Frans Marie Lubber (1982-94); Andreas Maria van Agt (1977-82)
Joined the EU/EC 1957 (founder member)
Commissioner from country in Barroso II College of Commissioners, and portfolio Neelie Kroes (Digital Agenda)
Number of MEPs 26/754
Turnout in 2009 EP elections (%) 36.9
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