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20th Jun 2019

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Four EU countries in top 10 world economies

  • Christmas market in Munich, Germany, still the EU's largest economy (Photo: Mia Martins)

Four European countries are in the world’s 10 largest economies, according to research by the Centre for Economic and Business Research.

The annual World Economic League Table 2015 published on Friday (26 December) by the London-based think tank puts the US as the world’s main economic powerhouse, followed by China and Japan.

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Germany, the UK and France take the fourth, fifth and sixth spots, respectively, with Italy, in the eighth place, the only other EU country in the top 10.

The UK has edged ahead of France into fifth place in this year's rankings, although the Cebr comments that the $1 billion (€850 million) gap in output between the two countries is “well within the margin of error” and would likely be extinguished if France's markets in drugs and prostitution, which “may prove to be 'larger than their British counterparts”, were included.

In June, the UK economy received a statistical boost of £65 billion (€80 billion) following the introduction of new EU accounting rules allowing the so-called ‘grey economy’, which includes proceeds from drug trafficking and prostitution, to be recorded.

Meanwhile, Russia is the main loser in the new list, dropping from eighth place to tenth in the rankings, with Cebr chief executive Douglas McWilliams suggesting that Moscow’s role in the ongoing Ukraine conflict was a factor in the country’s economic decline.

“The fun of the world economic league table is that it brings things back to hard figures,” said McWilliams.

He added that “countries like Russia and Argentina, who have invaded neighbouring countries and whose leaders spout aggressively nationalistic rhetoric, are brought down to earth by their falls in the league table as their economies collapse".

The Russian economy is poised to endure a 4.5 percent recession in 2015 as a result of falling oil prices and the effects of western sanctions.

Last week the country’s central bank was forced to spent around €3 billion of its foreign currency reserves to prevent a run on the rouble currency.

But the next 15 years are likely to be about the continuing rise of some of the 'Bric' countries - Brazil, Russia, India, and China.

China is projected to overtake the US by 2025 as the world’s largest economy, the Cebr forecasts, while the "unstoppable" rise of India will see it become the world’s third-largest economy by 2024.

In Europe, meanwhile, Cebr predicts that Germany’s ageing and declining population, coupled with the weakness of the euro, will allow the UK to overtake it by 2030.

2015: It's the economy, still

After a year of suspended action, the EU needs to show some results in 2015. But changing political landscapes in member states could prove a distraction.

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