Facts about Germany 2015 2015 - Page 48

46 | 47 FOREIGN POLICY TOPIC ADVOCATE OF EUROPEAN INTEGRATION No country in Europe has more neighbours helped shape the process of European cohe- than Germany. It shares its border with sion following the end of the East-West con- nine countries, eight of which are European flict. This European integration created the Union (EU) member states. For Germany, world’s largest common market, character- European integration, one of the most im- ised by the four fundamental freedoms for- pressive political success stories of recent mulated in the Treaty of Rome signed in decades, lays the foundations for peace, se- 1957: the free movement of goods between curity, and prosperity. Advancing and the EU member states, the freedom of strengthening this, particularly in view of movement of persons, the freedom to pro- complex and in many cases crisis-ridden vide services within the EU, and the free conditions, remains the main task of Ger- flow of capital. man foreign policy. Begun in the early 1950s, the historical project that today is The financial and debt crisis which took the EU nowadays has over half a billion citi- shape in 2008 left the European unification zens in 28 member states. German Euro- process facing major challenges. For this pean policy emerged as a driving force in all reason the banking union, which establishes stages of European unification, and actively common standards and control mechanisms for the financial sector in the Eurozone, was a key objective of German Euro- NUMBER pean policy. Social cohesion among Europeans, in difficult times as well, enjoys 508 million people live in the 28 member states of the European Union. This gives it the third largest population after China and India. Its citizens speak 24 languages and live in an area covering four million square kilometres. GDP totals 13.92 trillion euros and is bigger than that of the USA. With a share of 15.4 percent of exports and 16.4 percent of imports, the EU leads the way in worldwide trade. → europa.eu widespread support among the German population. The size and economic output of the common European market make the EU a major player in the global economy. The Eurozone alone accounts for more than a fifth of the gross domestic product generated worldwide – putting it in second place behind the USA. At the same time the Eurozone is the most important importer and exporter of goods and services worldwide. The IMF is expecting growth of 1.6 percent for 2016; in 2013, the European Economic Area was still in recession. As the strongest