Europe’s place in the World
The EU is very much a world power when viewed from the economic, military and political perspectives. See where Europe stands, alongside its members, on the world stage.
Europe is by far the largest aid donor on the planet, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of GDP. The OECD records that, in 2013, EU members states collectively gave $70.7 billion, the EU itself another $15.9 billion, and other Europeans a further $8.8 billion. Europe, then, donated $95.5 billion of the total $159.9 billion, and we can be proud knowing that European disaster relief, humanitarian aid and EU volunteers reach hundreds of millions of refugees and poverty-stricken families year on year.
All EU and EFTA member states but Switzerland participate in the European Economic Area (EEA), and the EU has customs agreements with the European microstates. On the EU enlargement agenda are the Balkan states (including Kosovo), Iceland and Turkey. The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) synchronises the rest of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, all non-EU countries with a Mediterranean coast, Jordan and Palestine with European economics and democracy, lifting EU trade barriers in return.
Though the EU prefers to exert soft power, it is militarily stronger than perceived. The EU and NATO cooperate closely, 22 states being members of both. EU Battlegroups form a European standing army totalling 27,000, whilst EUFOR and Euromarfor provide rapid reaction forces used regularly for peace-keeping and local training missions alongside the UN. The EU currently operates in central Africa, in the Balkans, and fights Somali pirates, capturing those on the Indian Ocean and raiding their mainland bases.
Aside from UN membership, the EU occupies two seats at the G7 (formerly G8) and is now able to host and chair summits alongside France, Germany, Italy and the UK, the EU member participants; so too is it represented at the G20. The EU is fully present at the WTO and works closely with the World Bank; European nations are in the IMF. There are EU diplomatic missions to 117 nations, as well as those to the EU-inspired African Union, to ASEAN, UNESCO, the OECD, CoE and OSCE to name but a few.
The EU has the largest economy on the planet with a 2014 GDP of US$18,495 billion (IMF). It is 69.4% services, 28.4% manufacturing and 2.3% agriculture. GDP growth was only 1.4% in 2014 (USA 2.4%; CIA), but a healthy 9.3% in the ten years thereunto (Eurostat). We are the world's largest exporter (CIA), our main partners being the USA, China, Russia and EFTA. Unemployment is 9.8% (USA 5.5%, China 4.1%), but Europe has some of the largest employers and most successful, recognisable companies.
EU at the UN
The EU is in the unique position of having its member states as full members of the UN, but - due to its supranational element - being a part of the 193 nation forum in its own right. The EU has every right of UN members with the exception of a General Assembly vote and the right to sit on the UN Security Coucil where the UK and France speak in its place. Alongside its members, the EU is the largest contributor to the UN budget and to UN development aid and peacekeeping, both in funding and resources terms.