National accounts are the source for a multitude of well-known economic indicators which are presented in this article. Gross domestic product (GDP) is the most frequently used measure for the overall size of an economy, while derived indicators such as GDP per capita — for example, in euro or adjusted for differences in price levels — are widely used for a comparison of living standards, or to monitor the process of convergence across the European Union (EU).
Moreover, the development of specific GDP components and related indicators, such as those for economic output, imports and exports, domestic (private and public) consumption or investments, as well as data on the distribution of income and savings, can give valuable insights into the driving forces in an economy and thus be the basis for the design, monitoring and evaluation of specific EU policies.
Main statistical findings
Developments in GDP
Growth in the EU-28’s GDP slowed substantially in 2008 and GDP contracted considerably in 2009 as a result of the global financial and economic crisis. There was a recovery in the level of EU-28 GDP in 2010 and this development continued (albeit at a progressively slower pace) in 2011, 2012 and 2013, as GDP increased to EUR 13 075 000 million — its highest ever level in current price terms (see Figure 1).
The euro area (EA-18) accounted for 73.4 % of this total in 2013, while the sum of the five largest EU Member State economies (Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain) was 71.0 %. However, cross-country comparisons should be made with caution as notably exchange rate fluctuations may significantly influence the development of nominal GDP figures for those EU Member States which have not adopted the euro.