Europäische Institut für Menschenrechte - Prof. Dr. Dr. Ümit Yazıcıoğlu -
      Europäische Institut für Menschenrechte - Prof. Dr. Dr. Ümit Yazıcıoğlu -

European Union Economy: Challenges and Cooperation

European Union Economy: Challenges and Cooperation



Prof. Dr. Dr. Ümit Yazıcıoğlu


The European Union (EU) constitutes a major economic bloc in the global economy, bringing together the economies of 27 member countries. The economic performance of the EU is a crucial factor influencing global economic balances. Therefore, the challenges faced by the EU economy deserve careful examination.


Introduction This study addresses the issues within the European Union (EU) economy and assesses their impacts. The EU economy represents a major economic force, comprising 16% of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, in recent years, certain issues have raised concerns about the EU economy. Overview of the EU Economy Historically, the EU economy has demonstrated stable growth. Nevertheless, in recent years, economic growth rates have declined, and extraordinary events such as the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 have had adverse effects on the economy. Until 2022, inflation rates in the EU remained at low levels, and the European Central Bank (ECB) kept interest rates in the range of 0 to 0.5%. Public debt levels have generally been acceptable. This situation indicates that the EU economy is fundamentally built on solid foundations.


The European Union (EU) economy has historically shown stable growth. However, in recent years, economic growth rates have experienced a decline, especially due to extraordinary events like the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. During this period, EU countries provided significant financial incentives to combat economic slowdowns and preserve employment.


Regarding levels of public debt, EU countries have generally borrowed at acceptable levels. A debt level reaching 85% of the EU's GDP is generally considered sustainable. Furthermore, budget deficits have generally remained at low rates, usually around 3.3%. This demonstrates that the EU economy is fundamentally based on a strong fiscal structure.


However, despite this positive outlook, the EU economy faces some challenges, including:


Fluctuations in energy prices: The EU is grappling with fluctuations in energy prices, particularly in the case of natural gas. Natural gas prices have exhibited much higher volatility compared to previous years. Energy supply issues with Russia jeopardize the EU's energy security. The EU has recently experienced significant fluctuations in energy prices, with natural gas prices being a major concern. Natural gas is a significant energy source for EU countries and is used in energy production. However, in recent years, substantial increases in natural gas prices have negatively impacted the EU economy.


One of the primary reasons for these price increases is energy supply issues with Russia. The EU heavily depends on Russia for its energy supply, but political tensions and disputes have led to threats of disrupting energy supply. This situation has seriously jeopardized the energy security of the EU.


Additionally, general uncertainty in the energy market also contributes to energy price fluctuations. There are many factors influencing energy prices, including political tensions, natural disasters, supply-demand balance, among others.


These energy price fluctuations increase energy costs and put pressure on businesses and consumers. Moreover, uncertainty regarding energy prices makes planning and investment decisions more challenging.


EU authorities should work on policies to secure energy supply and maintain stable energy prices. These measures are crucial for ensuring the stability of the EU economy and enhancing energy security.


Inflation: The EU is currently facing unprecedented inflation. Increases in prices of essential consumer items like food and energy have driven up inflation rates. The ECB has raised interest rates to control inflation. Dealing with inflation has become a major challenge for the EU economy. Particularly, price hikes in essential consumption items like food and energy have driven up inflation rates, posing a significant issue for the EU economy.


This high inflation reduces consumer purchasing power and increases costs for businesses, which can lead to economic uncertainty.


The efforts of the ECB to control inflation are crucial for ensuring economic stability. However, these efforts require delicate balance. Excessive increases in interest rates can halt economic growth and increase unemployment. Therefore, the ECB must closely monitor economic conditions and make appropriate policy decisions.


Tight monetary policy and economic activity: The ECB's tight monetary policy is dampening economic activity. Concerns have been raised about the possibility that rising interest rates could lead to increased unemployment. The European Central Bank (ECB) is pursuing a tight monetary policy and has raised interest rates to control inflation. While this policy aims to control inflation, it can have adverse effects on economic activity.


Higher interest rates can reduce consumer spending and investments. Higher interest rates on loans can make consumer loans and business investments more costly, which can slow down economic growth.


Furthermore, there is a risk of increased unemployment. Higher interest rates can increase costs for businesses, which could have a negative impact on employment.


The ECB's tight monetary policy can contribute to controlling inflation, but its effects on economic activity must be closely monitored. Striking a balance to support economic growth without increasing unemployment is crucial. The ECB must adjust its policy decisions according to the needs of the economy.


Offshoring of production: Due to high energy costs and uncertainty, some production activities have been relocated from EU countries to countries like the United States, which have more accessible energy resources. The term "deindustrialization" is becoming increasingly common. High energy costs and the appeal of countries with cheaper energy resources have led to a transfer of some production activities from EU countries to other countries. This phenomenon is referred to as "deindustrialization."


Deindustrialization refers to a reduction or disappearance of industrial production in a region. High energy costs can increase production expenses, prompting some businesses to consider relocating to countries with cheaper energy sources. Additionally, energy resource instability creates uncertainty for businesses.


This situation presents a significant challenge for EU countries in terms of economic growth and employment. The EU may need to review its energy policies to ensure safer and sustainable energy access. Simultaneously, increasing energy efficiency and investing in renewable energy sources can help prevent deindustrialization.


These challenges represent fundamental issues facing the EU economy, and there is uncertainty about how these issues will be resolved. While EU countries have the capacity to provide financial support, collaboration is necessary to effectively address these challenges. Furthermore, developing long-term strategies to enhance energy security and diversify EU energy supply may be essential.



September 1, 2023, Oxford

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