About private equity

How private equity invests in privately-owned businesses, supports jobs and creates prosperity.


Login to access your exclusive member-only content and account information.


Not a member? Join us

  • Operate to the highest level of professional standards
  • Access authoritative industry research and data
  • Navigate the complex EU regulatory environment
  • Network and engage with industry leaders
News & opinion

The European Frontier: The EU’s expanding marketplace

01 Aug 2012

There is a tendency for people outside of Europe to see the continent as a sort of giant museum. For the past three years, stories of the “BRICs’” (Brazil, Russia, India and China) stunningly high growth and the perennial euro crisis have done a good deal of damage to the “Old Continent’s” image. Somehow Europe’s old economic selling points – half-a-billion consumers, home of 150 Fortune 500 companies, a highly-educated and skilled workforce – have lost their potency.

But businesses and investors would be mistaken to overlook Europe. For all the growth in emerging markets, the European Union’s nominal GDP (which is what matters most in terms of international buying power and trade) remains at $17.8 trillion well ahead of the United States’ $15.1 trillion and still over double China’s $7.3 trillion.

Beyond that, Europe’s unique model of growth guarantees that it will remain a fundamental pillar of the world economy.

While hundreds of millions of people have been economically emancipated in the US through immigration and in China by way of migration to the cities, Europe’s unique method of integration, trade, aid and enlargement has lifted entire nations out of poverty with substantially less social upheaval.

As a recent World Bank report highlights, this began first with 100 million or so people in southern Europe and is currently continuing with another 100 million in the EU’s new central and eastern countries. The report notes that no other region of the world has been able to come up with anything quite like it.

This pattern is continuing. Europe’s entire neighbourhood is engaged in the race for growth, much of it with great success. For example Turkey, which is in a customs union with the EU, having no barriers or extra tariffs on many goods moving between it and the EU, is the world’s fifteenth-biggest economy and enjoyed 9% growth in 2010. Russia, another country rapidly converging with Western standards of living, while not wanting to be an EU member, has expressed interest with a vast free trade area “from Lisbon to Vladivostok”.

This kind of integration and free trade initiatives between the EU and its neighbours is inevitable. The bloc is systematically the number one trading partner, often representing almost half of trade, making the guarantee of free movement of goods and capital a top priority. As the countries of the Middle East, North Africa and Eurasia converge with the West, many of them will have as their priority the European market.

It goes without saying that this will be very beneficial to European companies. Firms that can achieve predominance in the European market will not only benefit from its 500 million consumers, but they will be poised to expand to the huge and increasingly wealthy markets on the periphery. They will access not merely a nation but a great, expanding trade area whose commerce dominates the western half of Eurasia. Whatever Europe’s troubles today, and there are many to be resolved, there can still be many sound long-term investment opportunities in its area.

While not wishing to under-estimate the black cloud that is represented by the gravity of the ongoing Euro crisis, it has a silver lining in it because it is forcing disparate and until now irreconcilable economic and financial policy differences to be made compatible with each other. Sometimes, I wonder whether we will not look back at the present period in ten or twenty years as just one of severe growing pains, in which the foundations of a much more effective economic and monetary union were laid.

Vincenzo Morelli, Chair 2012-2013, EVCA

Want to discuss?

We are always keen to hear from you.


What can I do to manage cookies stored on my computer or phone?

You can accept or refuse cookies. Accepting cookies is usually the best way to make sure you get the best from a website.

Most PCs automatically accept them but you can change your browser settings to restrict, block or delete cookies if you want. Each browser is different, so check the 'Help' menu of your particular browser (or your mobile phone's handset manual) to learn how to change your cookie preferences. Many browsers have universal privacy settings for you to choose from.

Help on how to set and customise your cookie settings for your browser

How to manage cookies in Internet Explorer

Cookie settings in most versions of Internet Explorer can be found by clicking the tools option and then the privacy tab.

How to manage cookies in Firefox

Cookie settings in Firefox are managed in the Options window's Privacy panel. See Options window - Privacy Panel for information on these settings.

How to manage cookies in Chrome

Click on the spanner icon on the toolbar, select settings, click the under the bonnet tab, click on content settings in the privacy section.

How to manage cookies in Opera 

You can manage cookies in Opera if you Click on settings, then Preferences, then Advanced and finally Cookies

How to manage cookies in Safari

Choose Safari, then preferences and then click security. You should then be able to specify if and when Safari should accept cookies.

To manage cookies on your mobile phone please consult your manual or handbook.

Get more help about how cookies work with specific browsers.

What happens if I don't accept cookies?

If you decline cookies, some aspects of Invest Europe site may not work on your computer or mobile phone and you may not be able to access areas you want on the website. For this reason we recommend that you accept cookies.

What happens if I delete my cookies?

If you delete all your cookies you will have to update your preferences with us again and some aspects of our site may not work.

What happens if I change computers or mobile?

If you use a different device, computer profile or browser you will have to tell us your preferences again.

If you'd like to learn more about cookies in general and how to manage them, visit aboutcookies.org.

We can't be responsible for the content of external websites.

Opt-out of cookies


Join today

This is for members only. To view in full login or join Invest Europe today.