Europe Economics and Business

From a business point of view, the countries of Europe as listed on Abbreviationfinder can be divided into three areas depending on whether the business sector is dominated by agriculture, industry or service industries. There is some overlap between these areas. The agricultural-dominated Europe is found in the southern and eastern parts. While it is only in three countries – Albania, Greece and Moldova – that agriculture is still the largest industry (measured by the number of employed), but in several countries over a tenth of the labor force works in agriculture. This includes all countries in Eastern Europe and Spain, Portugal and Ireland. Southern Italy should also be included in this group.

The industry is, in view of the number of employed, the dominant industry in the whole of Eastern Europe. In these former planning economies, five-year plans (or equivalent) have focused on technological development since the 1960s. In many of the countries, the industry is still an expanding sector. Relatively many employed in the industry are also located in Switzerland, Austria and Germany. According to Countryaah, in Western Europe, several countries have been affected by closures in the mining and traditional manufacturing industries, resulting in high unemployment rates, mainly during the 1970s and early 1980s. Yet in 2000, a dozen countries had high unemployment. In western and northern Europe, public and private service and administration are now the largest industry in terms of the number of employed. In Scandinavia, Finland.

The welfare of the individual states measured in GDP per capita is evenly distributed in comparison with other continents. Moldova, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Northern Macedonia are close to the numbers of the developing countries. Eastern Europe occupies a middle position with Slovenia at its highest and Bulgaria at its lowest. Switzerland has the highest GDP per capita, followed by Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark and Germany.

Business is also different in the individual countries, and during the post-war period several regional problem areas have arisen. The causes have been several; one is the vigorous migration from rural to metropolitan cities. In areas such as Mezzogiorno (southern Italy), Brittany and the Central Massif in France, Western Ireland, Scotland, Friesland and large parts of northern Scandinavia and Finland, the role of agriculture and forestry respectively has decreased. At the same time, industrial development has been minimal and the infrastructure development neglected in these areas. Unilateralism in business has led to a lack of flexibility, which has made it difficult to adapt to changed conditions. Another form of problem areas has arisen from the decline in mining and heavy industry. Examples include Wales, Lancashire, Lorraine, Wallonia, Ruhr, Bergslagen and Norrbotten. Several former shipyards may also be counted here. Finally, mention is made of the areas in the former West Germany and in Austria that have been cut off from the natural trade area through the iron curtain. In Western Europe, the state powers have tried to level the living conditions between the regions through different forms of regional policy. During the 1960s and 1970s, attempts were made in various ways (transport subsidies, tax relief, etc.) to encourage the industry to move to problem areas; However, during the 1980s and 1990s, several nations have been investing more in an expanded infrastructure, which in turn will be able to create local development with local resources. Regional problem areas are also present in Eastern Europe, but no real regional policy corresponding to Western Europe has been implemented.

Country GDP growth (percent) GDP per person (US dollar)
Albania 2.2 (2019) 5,254 (2018)
Andorra 1.8 (2019) 42 030 (2018)
Armenia 7.6 (2019) 4 212 (2018)
Azerbaijan 2.2 (2019) 4 721 (2018)
Belgium 1.4 (2019) 46 556 (2018)
Bosnia and Herzegovina 2.6 (2019) 5,951 (2018)
Bulgaria 3.4 (2019) 9,273 (2018)
Cyprus 3.2 (2019) 28 159 (2018)
Denmark 2.4 (2019) 60 726 (2018)
Estonia 4.3 (2019) 22 928 (2018)
Finland 1.0 (2019) 49 648 (2018)
France 1.5 (2019) 41 464 (2018)
Georgia 5.1 (2019) 4 345 (2018)
Greece 1.9 (2019) 20 324 (2018)
Ireland 5.5 (2019) 78 806 (2018)
Iceland 1.9 (2019) 73 202 (2018)
Italy 0.3 (2019) 34 318 (2018)
Kosovo 4.2 (2019) 4 281 (2018)
Croatia 2.9 (2019) 14 869 (2018)
Latvia 2.2 (2019) 18 089 (2018)
Liechtenstein -1.2 (2009) 165 028 (2016)
Lithuania 3.9 (2019) 19 090 (2018)
Luxembourg 2.3 (2019) 114,340 (2018)
Northern Macedonia
Malta 4.4 (2019) 30,075 (2018)
Moldova 3.5 (2019) 3 189 (2018)
Monaco 6.1 (2018) 166 726 (2017)
Montenegro 3.6 (2019) 8 761 (2018)
Netherlands 1.8 (2019) 53 024 (2018)
Norway 1.2 (2019) 81 807 (2018)
Poland 4.1 (2019) 15 424 (2018)
Portugal 2.2 (2019) 23 146 (2018)
Romania 4.1 (2019) 12 301 (2018)
Russia 1.3 (2019) 11 289 (2018)
San Marino 1.2 (2018) 48 495 (2017)
Switzerland 0.9 (2019) 82 839 (2018)
Serbia 4.2 (2019) 7 234 (2018)
Slovakia 2.4 (2019) 19 547 (2018)
Slovenia 2.4 (2019) 26 234 (2018)
Spain 2.0 (2019) 30,524 (2018)
UK 1.4 (2019) 42 491 (2018)
Sweden 1.2 (2019) 54 112 (2018)
Czech Republic 2.6 (2019) 23 079 (2018)
Turkey 0.9 (2019) 9 311 (2018)
Germany 0.6 (2019) 48 196 (2018)
Ukraine 3.2 (2019) 3 095 (2018)
Hungary 4.9 (2019) 15 939 (2018)
Vatican City State
Belarus 1.2 (2019) 6 290 (2018)
Austria 1.6 (2019) 51 513 (2018)


One third of Europe’s land area is used for agricultural purposes, half of which is occupied by cereal cultivation. Compared to the rest of the world, Europe has a highly mechanized agriculture, which means that relatively few people are employed in this sector. Of the workforce, 13% work in agriculture (the Russian Federation exceptions), but this proportion varies widely from country to country. The highest relative numbers are Albania, Moldova, Greece and Belarus with 60, 45, 18 and 17% respectively. The lowest share has the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden with less than 5%.

Most of the more important crops are grown in Europe, and for several crops, Europe accounts for a very large proportion of world production. In Europe, for example, 4/5 of all rye is produced, 2/3 of all potatoes and oats and 2/5 of all wheat. In the temperate regions of northern and northwestern Europe, oats and barley are common, on the better soils also wheat. On the sandy soils of northern Germany and the east, rye is the characteristic grain. In Northern Europe, crop rotation is common, and root vegetables such as potatoes and sugar beets are common crops. In some parts, a large proportion of rapeseed for oil production is also grown. In southern Europe, wheat and maize (mainly as fodder) are the most common plant species. Olive crops occur extensively around the Mediterranean. Wine is generally grown south of the 50th latitude, and in particular for France and Italy, it accounts for an important part of the total export value. Large areas of fodder maize are found in the lower reaches of the Danube, in the southern Russian Federation and Ukraine, in Italy and in France, and during the 1980s this crop was also introduced on a large scale in the EU countries of northern Europe, for example. in Belgium and the Netherlands. Rice is found in northern Italy and southern Spain, and citrus fruits for sale are grown mainly in Spain and Sicily. Tobacco crops are found in Moldova, Bulgaria, Italy and Greece. Of more special nature are greenhouse growing of vegetables and flowers in the Netherlands as well as the cultivation of early vegetables in southern France, Brittany and Cornwall (England).

Cereal cultivation often occurs together with animal production, which is well developed, especially in the countries around the North Sea. About 1/3 of the world’s meat production comes from Europe. Agriculture in Europe shows great internal differences in, among other things, degree of mechanization, production and organization. The Russian Federation, for example, despite a relatively long time of mechanization, has significantly worse harvest outcomes than the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Agriculture in Eastern Europe has to a large extent been organized in very large units under state or collective control. The prime examples of this are the former Soviet Union, Romania, Bulgaria and Albania. However, in the first three countries, smaller areas have also been set aside for family farming, which often had higher production per unit area and accounted for a large part of the production of, among other things. potatoes, vegetables and fruits. In Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, small family farms have dominated, in Poland (unlike other Eastern Europe) privately owned. In Western Europe, family agriculture dominates, but in many countries there is also the operation of goods. The average farm size is highest in the UK, 70 ha; in many other countries the value is between 10 and 30 ha. The smallest units are found in southern Europe, in countries such as Portugal, Greece and Italy. In France, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, the government has encouraged size rationalization. EU policy has meant regional specialization and more efficient agriculture. A high price has been guaranteed to the farmers. led to surplus production. In the Soviet Union, the relationship was the opposite, and during the 1970s and 1980s cereals were often imported from primarily the United States.

Europe’s agrarian cultural landscape is characterized by its topography, history and current organization. On the continent north of the Alps, the agricultural landscape is open and the settlements are mostly gathered in villages. In large parts of England, Denmark, southern Norway and Sweden, the settlement is scattered as a result of radical reforms in the 18th and 19th centuries. In more peripheral areas such as Brittany, Ireland, western and northern England, the Central Massif and Galicia (northwestern Spain), agriculture is small and individual fields are often bounded by hedges or moorlands (bocage). The Mediterranean region’s landscape is characterized by relatively small areas with arable cultivation, as well as larger areas with low forest and bushland (macchia) for pasture and wood production. On slopes, wine and olives are grown. Along the coasts of Spain, France and Italy are intensively used fruit and vegetable crops (huertas) that are irrigated. In Eastern Europe, economies of scale have been dominant even before the introduction of collective agriculture.


More than 1/3 of Europe’s area is covered by forest. The largest economic value is the coniferous forest belt in northern Scandinavia, Finland and the Russian Federation, which is the basis for an extensive timber and cellulose industry. The forests in Central Europe are also important. The largest producers of wood on the continent are France, Germany and Poland. One problem here is the increased forest damage due to air pollution.


The most important fishing nations are the Russian Federation, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Spain, which account for half of Europe’s total catch. Commercial large-scale fishing is primarily conducted as sea fishing in the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea, the Barents Sea and the Bay of Biscay. Locally significant coastal fishing occurs in the Baltic Sea, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Seafood is caught along the Mediterranean coast and the warm Atlantic coast.

Mineral Production

Europe (excluding the Russian Federation) is the world’s poorest mineral continent. While most minerals do exist, the deposits are often small and of little value (see above, section Natural Resources). However, the Russian Federation, both the Asian and the European part, is rich in minerals. The comparatively large assets on coal and iron ore have been one of the decisive factors for the continent’s industrial location and urbanization.

Coal is mined in large quantities in Silesia (at the border between Poland and the Czech Republic), in the Donetsk region in southern Ukraine, in England, in the Ruhr region and in Saarland (Germany), in northern France, in Bohemia, in Romania and in the Ural Mountains.

Lignite coal, which has a lower carbon content, is mined, among other things. in central Germany, in Bohemia and in the central part of the Russian Federation. Coal mining in Western Europe has since reduced primarily oil replaced coal as an energy source but also as a result of competition from cheap American coal.

Uranium (for use in nuclear power plants) is mainly mined in France (87% of Europe’s production).

High-grade iron ore is mined mainly at Kryvyj Rih (Krivoj Rog) in Ukraine and northern Sweden, while the largest mining of low-grade iron ore takes place in Lorraine, France. Iron ore is also mined to a lesser extent in other places, including in the Russian Federation, Spain and Norway. The economically viable assets do not meet the need, and iron ore is imported from other parts of the world.

For oil and natural gas, see below (Energy section).

Metals that are important for iron alloys and cemented carbides, e.g. cobalt, manganese, molybdenum and vanadium, are mined in Europe, if you ignore the Russian Federation. Exceptions to some extent are chromium and tungsten: together, Albania and Finland account for about 10% of world production of chromium-containing mineral and Austria and Portugal account for 6% of world tungsten production. In addition to the Russian Federation, nickel is also extracted in Albania, Finland and Greece. Titanium is extracted in Norway, which accounts for about 20% of all mining of the titanium mineral ilmenite.

Other metals (with some exceptions) are now in relatively small quantities, partly as a result of the depletion of assets. Copper is now mined mainly in Poland, Serbia, Montenegro, Sweden and the Ural Mountains, zinc in Spain and Sweden, lead in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bulgaria. More than half of the world’s mercury is mined in Europe, mainly in Ukraine and Spain. Almadén in southern Spain has one of the world’s largest mercury resources; the ore has been mined since Roman times. The supply of bauxite (for aluminum production) is also relatively good (just over 10% of world production). Bauxite is mainly mined in Serbia, Montenegro, Hungary, Greece and France. Of the precious metals, gold is found to a very small extent. Silver is broken in i.e. Poland, the Russian Federation, Sweden and Spain, while platinum is only mined at the Ural Mountains.


Although Europe has only 15% of the earth’s population, over 40% of the total energy resources are consumed here. Only North America has higher energy consumption per capita. From childhood, until the 1950s, coal was by far the most important source of energy, and thus also the most important location factor for industry. The importance of coal has diminished in favor of primarily oil, but coal is still important for electricity generation in many countries. The use of coal is extensive in Germany, Poland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic.

Oil and natural gas are mainly extracted in the Russian Federation and Ukraine, in the North Sea and in Romania. Apart from the Russian Federation, the UK and Norway produce the most oil in Europe. The largest producers of natural gas are the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the Netherlands. In the EU, oil now covers half of the energy demand and natural gas 1/6. Although the importance of the North Sea gas and the North Sea oil has increased, energy use in Europe clearly exceeds its own resources. Oil imports are in large quantities from the Middle East, North Africa and Central America. However, the Russian Federation’s ever-growing export of fossil fuels together with the North Sea oil has changed the appearance of imports. Today, Europe is much less vulnerable to delivery stoppages from the Middle East than during the 1970s oil crisis. The natural gas consumed is mainly produced in Europe, but imports are also from the Asian part of the Russian Federation and from North Africa. Natural gas’s share of energy use is high in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Italy, France and Romania, in particular.

Electricity consumption varies between 1,000 and 25,000 kWh per capita per year. Excluding Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the one hand, and Norway, Sweden and Iceland, on the other hand, electricity consumption is relatively evenly distributed, between about 2,500 and 7,500 kWh per capita. In Norway, all production comes from hydropower plants, and in Iceland, Albania, Austria and Switzerland, hydropower accounts for more than half of the electricity generation. In France and Belgium, nuclear energy accounts for more than 2/3 of electricity generation, and also in Sweden, Switzerland, Finland and Hungary it plays an important part. However, a clear majority of Europe’s countries produce their electricity from thermal power plants, fired with natural gas, coal or oil.


After the industrial revolution, Europe’s industry, for transport reasons, became concentrated on the large coal deposits. Around the coalfields of the United Kingdom, the Ruhr region, Wallonia and the Saar area – Lorraine, the earliest core areas of European industry emerged, followed by large industrial areas in Saxony, northern Silesia, southern Ukraine and Ural. Smaller but highly industrialized regions were also added in e.g. The Rhône-Saône valleys in France, northern Italy, northwest Switzerland, eastern Austria, western Bohemia, Slovenia, northern Germany, central Sweden and northern Spain. Modern industry has largely been located in these early established areas, although transport and other technological advances have partly changed this pattern. Among other things,

National industrial centers have emerged on the basis of the region’s raw materials, manpower and outlets. E.g. much of the consumer goods industry has been located around major cities such as London, Paris, Berlin and Moscow. in southwestern Germany, northern Italy and the Netherlands. The heavy industry is mainly found in the traditional industrial regions, where a rationalization and specialization in the iron and steel sector is an outstanding feature. New plants in the iron and steel and petrochemical industries are often found in coastal locations as a result of increased imports of raw materials. Large iron and steel mills exist, for example. at Dunkirk and Marseille in France, at Bremen in Germany, at IJmuiden in the Netherlands, at Cornigliano (near Genoa),

The European manufacturing industry is highly developed and heavily dependent on imported raw materials. The manufacture of metal products is the largest industrial branch in Europe. After the Second World War, the chemical industry has developed strongly and is often associated with oil refineries. Research and development, not least in computer technology, has led to the establishment of new industries, often outside the core of traditional industrial areas, for example. in connection with universities and communication centers. Technological advances have rationalized production in mainly the Western European economies, where the light industry has grown strongly. Production in the Eastern European planning economies was characterized by a relatively well-distributed but outdated industry as well as a priority of heavy industry.


Trade is of great importance in Europe. European states are involved in 2/3 of the world’s total international trade. Western Europe’s economy has been heavily based on trade since the Second World War, while the planning economies in the East until the end of the 1960s were more built on self-sufficiency. Europe’s imported goods have mainly been food, oil products and raw materials, while exports have been concentrated on capital and consumer goods. However, a large part of trade takes place within Europe, mainly within the EU, whose countries trade with each other without fees or barriers to trade. The policy has been based on economic and regional specialization throughout the EU. Of the Union’s total GDP, exports account for over 20%. In the past, EFTA was also of great importance, as was the Soviet block dominated by the Soviet Union until 1989.

Europe’s trade outside its own continent is mainly done with the United States, Japan and former colonies.

Europe Economics and Business

About the author