Focus on Western Europe
The European debt crisis and the precarious financial health of several Western European countries has seldom been out of mainstream news in the past six years. Portugal, Ireland, and Spain, were in a particularly fragile state, with the inability to repay or refinance government debt forcing government-led austerity measures, which in turn provoked significant social unrest.
The crisis had a significant impact on each country’s respective economies and labour markets, and unemployment rates in Spain fell as low as 27%. Slowly but surely each country has risen from the depths of the crisis and returned to some form of economic growth.
"With a return to growth, the automotive, renewable energy and technology industries offer billion-dollar growth opportunities"
If the aforementioned countries offer potentially unstable business environments to outside investors, the other countries in Western Europe offer a far more stable setting. With a collective return to growth, the automotive, renewable energy and technology industries offer billion-dollar growth opportunities.
Germany has been a shining light throughout the debt crisis and its economy continues to go from strength to strength, sitting fourth in the world’s largest by nominal GDP. The country offers the world’s most competitive and innovative automotive sector, an evolving chemical industry, and is widely recognised for having a large number of specialised small and medium enterprises.
Three other Western European countries make up the world’s top ten GDP rankings (the UK is fifth, France sixth and Italy ninth), with a further three (Spain 14th, Netherlands 18th, and Switzerland 19th) making the top twenty.
Optimism is rising in Western Europe for sustained investment from foreign businesses, a fact highlighted in a recent Ernst & Young survey. It found the region attracted 50% of investments worldwide in 2014, up from 45% the previous year, with the UK, Germany and France securing more than half (52%) of FDI projects and 30% of jobs created by investments into Europe.