To say that Europe has had a turbulent time of late would be an understatement. In the midst of countries still grappling to recover their economies following the financial crisis, and battling to manage the migrant crisis, the European Union has been faced with its own existential crisis.

The 2016 UK referendum which saw residents vote to opt out of the bloc, trade pacts that have been faced with strong resistance from citizens and organisations alike, and the strong rise in nationalist parties across the region have all pushed EU leaders into a major soul-searching process.

The election of US President Donald Trump on the other side of the pond has put protectionist agendas firmly on the map. With no less than four major elections of its own in 2017, the EU and the status quo has been tested. But every challenge offers an opportunity, and this must become Europe’s dictum if it is to survive. In the year of its 60th birthday, EU leaders must find ways to bring back meaning to the union and regain the trust of their people.

As a region, Europe is the world’s largest trading area, accounting for over 50% of global trade. However, its geographical, political, economic and historical diversity makes European trade complex. Commodity rich nations such as Russia and Norway, emerging economies of central and eastern Europe, politically less stable regions such as Ukraine and Georgia, and more powerful G20 nations as diverse as Germany and Turkey, all sit alongside each other.

In this GTR+ Europe publication, together with Equant Analytics, we explore these complexities and investigate the challenges – both old and new – facing the region. As well as providing a comprehensive trade overview, we have put together a special UK focus section that looks at the country’s projected import and export trends in order to understand its negotiating position ahead of its exit from the EU; we take an in-depth look at Russia’s trade, which after two years of decline has made a U-turn despite ongoing sanctions and a low oil price; we list the five greatest threats to the region’s trade and security; and we investigate the region’s leadership in supply chain financing.

In addition, we have boosted our “top 10 country data” to “top 12” in order to better illustrate the variety of this heterogenous region. We hope that you find this publication, together with the rest of the new suite of GTR+ publications, to be a practical and useful tool.

In this issue: