The Netherlands is a small country within Europe. Nevertheless, it contributes almost 5 percent to the European Union’s gross domestic product, making it the sixth largest economy in the EU-28. What are the EU’s largest and smallest economies? How is economic wealth distributed in the European Union?
Largest is Germany with a share of more than 21 percent in the European economy, followed by France and the United Kingdom. Together, these three countries constitute over half of the EU-28 economy. Italy, Spain and the Netherlands take up a combined share of almost 24 percent in the European GDP. The remaining one-quarter share is occupied by the other 22 countries.
Dutch GDP per capita among highest in the EU
After adjusting for different price levels, Dutch GDP per capita is one of the highest in the EU. Only Luxembourg and Ireland have higher prosperity levels. In Denmark and Austria, GDP per capita (price-level adjusted) is at more or less the same level as in the Netherlands. Luxembourg’s GDP per capita is over two and a half times the average level across the EU. Luxembourg mainly owes its top position to the favourable tax climate for financial institutions and the large number of people working but not living there. Ireland, too, has a high GDP per capita, partly due to its favourable tax climate for international companies.
Average growth rate
In the period 2013–2018, the EU had an average economic growth rate of 1.8 percent per year. All countries except Greece recorded growth. With 1.9 percent average annual growth, the Netherlands was slightly above the EU average. The Dutch economy contracted in 2012 and 2013 while Belgium, Germany, France and the United Kingdom all recorded growth. The Netherlands was more severely affected by the eurozone crisis than its neighbours. Although recovery set in later than in surrounding countries, economic growth in the Netherlands outpaced the EU average in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
The highest growth rates in the period 2013–2018 were recorded in Ireland, followed by Malta. Eastern European member states achieved higher growth rates than countries in Western and Southern Europe. The latter do have considerably higher prosperity levels than average in the Union.