Trading with Europe

Trading with Europe
Trading with Europe

Europe is the second-smallest continent, covering less than 7 per cent of the earth’s surface area and home to 11 per cent of the world’s population. Economically, however, the region is home to more advanced markets than any other part of the world: 25 of the 34 Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) members are based in Europe and 5 of the G8 economies are European countries.

As a whole, Europe is Britain’s most important trade partner: more than 50 per cent of the UK’s exports go to and imports come from this part of the world.

Most European countries are associated with the European Union and single market:

European Union (EU)

Founded in the 1950s as a post-World War II effort to closely align Europe’s key economies and their political interests, the EU now has 28 member states:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

The EU’s single (or internal) market allows for the free movement of goods, capital, services and people between these countries.

More information about trading with the EU

European Economic Area (EEA)

Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway choose not to be full EU members, but join the EU’s single market by being part of the EEA. This guarantees equal rights and obligations for EEA citizens and economic operators throughout the EU and EEA.

Under this agreement, member countries adopt almost all EU legislation except for laws related to agriculture and fisheries.
All EU members are part of EEA with the exception of Croatia as the country’s application is still being verified.

European Free Trade Association (EFTA)

Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway form a separate trade bloc with Switzerland: EFTA.

Swiss nationals have the same rights to live and work in the UK as other EEA nationals, but while Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway countries are part of the single market through the EEA, Switzerland has separate bilateral agreements.

Europe also offers trade opportunities beyond these trade blocs: two of the world’s most promising emerging markets – Russia and Turkey – are both considered European economies.

Although the emerging markets of the rest of the world will continue to grow, Europe will always be the most straightforward and convenient market for British businesses to access.

Sources: GOV.UK, Heritage Foundation, OECD, UKTI, World Bank, World Economic Forum


DHL first entered Europe – specifically the UK – in 1974. By 1977, DHL had offices in the Netherlands, France, Germany and Norway. Today, DHL’s network spans across the entire continent, including Ukraine – the largest country by land area based entirely in Europe – to some of the world’s smallest countries such as Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, San Marino and the Holy See (Vatican).

In 2002, DHL Express became a core part of Germany’s Deutsche Post AG, the world’s largest courier company with headquarters in Bonn. DHL’s main European Express hub in Leipzig is a state-of-the-art venue with the capacity to handle 100,000 items each hour. 60 aircraft from around the world land at and depart from Leipzig each night, setting global standards in fuel consumption and noise reduction.