Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, the U.S. market share, the political situation if relevant, the top reasons why U.S. companies should consider exporting to this country, and other issues that affect trade, e.g., terrorism, currency devaluations, trade agreements.
Last Published: 7/19/2017

The United States and the European Union (EU), with its 28 Member States, enjoy a mature economic relationship that is characterized by $4.5 trillion in two-way investment as of 2015.[1]  U.S. exports of goods and services to the EU-28 in 2016 reached approximately $503 billion and imports from the EU, $596 billion.[2]  It is estimated that transatlantic commerce generates more than 15 million jobs. U.S. and European foreign affiliates directly employed 8.7 million workers in 2015 which is a four percent increase over 2014.[3]

The EU spring forecast released on February 13, 2017 projects that the recovery in the Euro Area will remain slow despite a relatively low Euro exchange rate, highly accommodative monetary policy, and supportive fiscal policy. Euro Area GDP growth is projected to be 1.8% in 2017 and 1.7% in 2018, reflecting a slight upward revision from the Autumn Forecast (1.6% and 1.8%, respectively) mainly due to the better than expected performance in the second half of 2016 and a robust start into 2017. The EU-28 is projected to grow at 1.8% in 2017 and 2018.3

Domestic demand is expected to remain the main driver of growth for the next several years. Euro Area inflation is projected at 1.7% in 2017 and 1.4% in 2018. Debt levels are beginning to decline, primarily due to low interest rates, reaching 90.4% in the Euro Area in 2017 from 91.1% in 2016. 9.6% unemployment is forecast for 2017 in the Euro Area and 8.1% in the entire EU.

Downside risks include a slowdown in emerging markets, particularly China, continued high geopolitical tensions, and uncertainty of oil price movements or financial market turmoil. Domestic risks include the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s impending exit from the EU, the migration crisis, and a possible reemergence of an economic crisis in Greece.

U.S. business may benefit from the EU’s border-free Schengen area which covers 22 of the 28 EU Member States [4] and eases the movement of goods and people across air, land, and sea borders.  Ireland and the U.K. have opted out of the Schengen and it is not certain when Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania will join. 

The transatlantic digital economy is an important pillar in the overall U.S.-EU economic and commercial relationship with nearly 15 terabits of cross-border data flowing per second. Both entities are the largest net exporters of digitally deliverable services in the world to each other’s economies comprising 70 percent of bilateral services exports from the United States to Europe and 54 percent of bilateral services imports to the United States. The United States exported a total of $184.2 billion in digitally deliverable services to Europe in 2015, highlighting the importance of maintaining an open digital ecosystem for both economies.


[1] USTR Trade Report 2016

[2] US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)

[3] The Transatlantic Economy 2017, Annual Survey of Jobs, Trade and Investment between the U.S. and Europe; Daniel Hamilton and Joseph Quinlan and EuroData February  13, 2017

[4] Twenty-two EU Member States and four European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Member States participate in the Schengen Area. Of the six EU members which do not form part of the Schengen Area three – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania – are legally obliged to join the area, while the other two – Ireland and the United Kingdom – maintain opt-outs. Four non-EU members – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland – participate in the Schengen Area.

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.

European Union 28 Trade Development and Promotion