Enlargement countries - recent economic developments
Data extracted in March 2022.
Planned article update: May 2023.
In 2021, the Turkish economy was by far the largest among the candidate countries and potential candidates. Measured in real terms, its GDP in 2021 was equivalent to 7.7 % of that of the EU.
In 2020, GDP per person in Turkey was almost two thirds (62 %) of that of the EU, measured in purchasing power standards (i.e. adjusted for price level), the highest among the candidate countries and potential candidates. The lowest GDP per person was found in Albania (30 %) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (32 %, 2018 data), with less than one third of the EU level.
Among the candidate countries and potential candidates, Montenegro and Albania (2020 data) had the lowest shares of industry in gross value added in 2021, at 12 % and 14 %, respectively. Turkey had the highest share, at 29 %. Industry made up 20 % of GVA in the EU.
Real GDP growth, 2010-2021 (% change compared with previous year)
This article is part of an online publication and provides information on a range of economic statistics for the European Union (EU) candidate countries and potential candidates. Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Serbia and Turkey currently have candidate status, while Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Kosovo* are potential candidates.
The article provides macroeconomic information from national accounts, including the principal measure of economic activity, gross domestic product (GDP), as well as an analysis of GDP by expenditure component and gross value added (GVA) by economic sector.
Gross domestic product in real terms
Gross domestic product (GDP) is an aggregate measure of the size of an economy, based on its total final output. GDP can be calculated using different approaches: the output approach; the expenditure approach; and the income approach.
Real or constant price GDP focuses on the volume of output, ignoring price changes. The calculation of the annual growth rate of GDP at constant prices, in other words the real change in GDP, allows comparison of the dynamics of economic development, both over time and between economies of different sizes, regardless of price developments.
Real GDP in the EU, measured as chain linked volumes (2015), stood at €13 189 billion in 2021 (see Table 1). The total economic output from the candidate countries and potential candidates generated a combined GDP of €1 105 billion in 2021 (or the latest year available: Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina 2020). Their combined output was equivalent to 8.4 % of the EU’s GDP.
In 2021, Turkey had by far the largest GDP among the candidate countries and potential candidates with €1 013 billion at 2015 constant prices (provisional data), corresponding to 7.7 % of the EU GDP. It was followed by Serbia (provisional data) with €44 billion; Bosnia and Herzegovina (2020 data) with €16 billion; Albania (2020 provisional data) with €11 billion; North Macedonia estimated at €10 billion; Kosovo (provisional data) with €7 billion and Montenegro with €4 billion (provisional).
Comparing with 2010, Turkey’s GDP was 83 % higher in 2021, continuing to increase also in 2020 despite the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The same ascending trend over the period can be seen also for the other candidate countries and potential candidates: Kosovo’s real terms GDP increased by 56 %, Serbia’s by 28 %, Montenegro’s by 23 %; and North Macedonia’s by 22 %. In contrast to Turkey, all of the other candidate countries and potential countries recorded falls in real GDP from 2019 to 2020, reflecting the negative impact of the pandemic. However, they all rebounded in 2021, with real GDP in 2021 even higher than before the pandemic in Turkey, Serbia and Kosovo. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania both experienced a fall in economic activity in 2020, just as the other candidate countries and potential candidates; however, their 2021 data are not yet available to analyse any potential recovery.
The negative economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic was also substantial for the EU, with a decline in real GDP in 2020. Despite this, the EU’s GDP was 13 % higher in 2021 than it had been in 2010, based on chain-linked volumes with constant 2015 prices.
Annual growth in real GDP in Turkey over the whole period 2010-2021 averaged 5.7 %, the highest average growth rate among the candidate countries and potential candidates over this period. Other average growth rates, calculated on the basis of Table 1, were: Kosovo 4.1 %; Serbia 2.3 %; Montenegro and North Macedonia, both 1.9 %; Albania 1.8 % and Bosnia and Herzegovina 1.6 % (both 2010-2020). Average real GDP growth in the EU over 2010-2021 was 1.1 %.
Table 2 shows the real annual growth rates of GDP year-on-year, in other words the change in the constant price GDP (real term GDP) compared to the year before. Some candidate countries and potential candidates showed rapid GDP growth in 2010-2011, a period characterised by the recovery from the 2008-2009 global financial crisis but with emerging external debt problems in some economies. Turkey’s growth of 11.2 % in 2011 was the highest recorded among the candidate countries and potential candidates in the period 2010-2011. Kosovo recorded real GDP growth of 6.3 % in 2011; Albania’s growth rate was 3.7 % in 2010. However, both had been less affected by the global financial crisis. There was no discernible rebound in the other candidate countries and potential candidates or in the EU.
The effects of the sovereign debt crises in some Member States affected the EU’s GDP over the period 2011-2014, when the maximum growth rate was 1.8 % in 2011. 2012 saw a contraction, when EU GDP declined by -0.7 %. Except Turkey, Kosovo and Albania, GDP contracted in all the other candidate countries and potential candidates in 2012; although not being negative, GDP growth in Kosovo was at its lowest in this period in 2012 (1.7 %). In Albania, the lowest point was in 2013 (1.0 %).
The period from 2013-2019, i.e. before the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated economic impacts, was generally a period of relative normality. In 2019, an economic downturn can be observed in Turkey: in this year, real GDP growth was at its lowest in the whole period 2010-2021 (0.9 %), including during the Covid-19 pandemic. EU growth in 2019, at 1.8 %, was lower than in any year since 2014. In contrast, several of the candidate countries and potential candidates recorded years with significant increases in GDP during this period. Montenegro recorded real GDP growth of 5.1 % in 2018; North Macedonia 3.9 % in both 2015 and 2019; Albania 4.0 % in 2018; Serbia 4.5 % in 2018; Turkey 8.5 % in 2013 and 7.5 % in 2017; Bosnia and Herzegovina 3.7 % in 2018; and Kosovo 5.9 % in 2015.
Annual average GDP growth over the period 2010-2019, thus excluding the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, was 5.5 % in Turkey; 4.6 % in Kosovo; 2.9 % in Montenegro; 2.5 % in both North Macedonia and Albania; 2.2 % in Bosnia and Herzegovina; and 2.1 % in Serbia. In the EU, annual average GDP growth was 1.5 % over this period.
The year 2020 was the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite this, Turkey maintained a GDP growth rate of 1.8 % in 2020. Among the other candidate countries and potential candidates, except Serbia (which nevertheless had negative growth of -0.9 %), all had their worst year for GDP growth over the period 2010-2021, and, in some cases, for much longer. The same applied to the EU. There were severe contractions in Montenegro, with a fall in GDP by -15.3 %; in North Macedonia by -6.1 %; in Kosovo by -5.3 %; in Albania by -3.5 %; and in Bosnia and Herzegovina by -3.2 %. The EU’s GDP contracted by -5.9 % in 2020.
In the most recent year for which data is available, 2021, there has generally been a solid economic recovery. For Montenegro, North Macedonia and the EU, the recovery was only partial, with growth not completely compensating for the decline in the previous year. In Montenegro, GDP increased by 12.4 %, while in North Macedonia it grew by 4.0 %. In the EU, GDP growth in 2021 was 5.3 %. However, for the other candidate countries and potential candidates for which data are available, GDP grew more than enough to compensate for the contraction (in the case of Turkey, low growth) in 2020. In Turkey, GDP increased by 11.0 % in 2021; in Kosovo, by 10.5 %; and in Serbia, by 7.4 %. Data for 2021 are not yet available for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania.
Gross domestic product in nominal terms
Nominal GDP is the market value of goods and services produced in an economy, unadjusted for inflation. GDP at current prices in the EU stood at €14 448 billion in 2021 (see Table 3). The output of the economies of the candidate countries and potential candidates was considerably lower, as together they generated a total GDP of €796 billion in 2021 (2020 data for Bosnia and Herzegovina); as such, their combined output was equivalent to 5.5 % of the EU’s GDP at current prices.
Turkey accounted for the largest GDP among the candidate countries and potential candidates in 2021, €686 billion, as measured in current prices. While the EU’s economy was 21 times as large as the Turkish economy, GDP in Turkey was 13 times as high as the second largest economy, Serbia, at €53 billion. Among the economies of the other candidate countries and potential candidates, nominal GDP ranged from €18 billion in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2020 data), via €15 billion in Albania, €12 billion in North Macedonia, €8 billion in Kosovo to €5 billion in Montenegro.
Gross domestic product per capita, in purchasing power standards
An analysis of GDP per capita (per inhabitant) removes the influence of the size of the population, making comparisons between different countries of different sizes easier. GDP per capita is often used as a measure of living standards within an economy. The measurement in purchasing power standards (PPS) adjusts for differences in price levels between countries. Theoretically, one PPS can buy the same amount of goods and services in each country.
Figure 1 shows GDP per capita in purchasing power standards for 2010 and 2020. Among the candidate countries and potential candidates, Turkey recorded the highest GDP per capita in PPS terms in both 2010 and 2020, with 13 128 PPS and 18 408 PPS, respectively. By this measure, GDP per capita in Turkey rose by 40 % over the period 2010-2020. Montenegro recorded the second highest value in both years, with 10 320 PPS in 2010 and 13 357 PPS in 2020; over the period, the country saw an increase of 29 %. During 2010-2020, GDP per capita in PPS terms increased by 41 % in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2010-2018, provisional), 32 % in Serbia, 30 % in North Macedonia (provisional), 29 % in Montenegro and 25 % (provisional) in Albania. Data on GDP in PPS per capita are not available for Kosovo.
Between 2010 and 2020, the GDP per capita in the EU rose from 24 901 PPS to 29 907 PPS, equivalent to an increase of 20 %. Referring to the real GDP data shown in Tables 1 and 2, the Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on the 2020 values of GDP per capita in the EU and at least some candidate countries and potential candidates.
Expenditure components of GDP
Analysing Gross domestic product (GDP) through the expenditure approach disaggregates GDP into its components: final consumption expenditure of households and non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH), general government expenditure, gross fixed capital formation, changes in inventories and acquisitions less disposals of valuables, and the external balance covering exports minus imports of goods and services. Only changes in inventories and the external balance can be negative. The share of investment in GDP is generally higher in wealthier countries than in less wealthy ones, so the share of household consumption is consequentially lower.
The shares of the expenditure components of GDP are shown in Table 4 for 2010 and for 2021 (or the latest data available) for the candidate countries and potential candidates and for the EU. Since the components must add to 100 %, the negative values of large external deficits increase the percentage values of the other components, so making comparison difficult between economies. The net external balance is calculated in this section according to the national accounts basis. This covers exports minus imports of goods and services.
The external balance of goods and services was strongly negative in most candidate countries and potential candidates, with Montenegro having a negative balance at -35.0 % of GDP in 2020; Kosovo -31.8 % (2021 provisional data); Albania -14.5 % (2020 provisional data); North Macedonia -13.0 % (2020 provisional data); and Bosnia and Herzegovina -11.4 % (2021 data). The external balance of goods and services was still substantial in Serbia in 2021 (provisional data) at -7.8 % of GDP. In Turkey, the external balance of goods and services in 2019 was positive (+2.6 %). The EU, as an economically developed region, ran external surpluses in 2010 and 2021 of 1.6 % and 3.8 % of GDP, respectively.
Investment expenditure, measured as gross fixed capital formation, accounted for a higher share of GDP in Kosovo (33.1 % in 2021 – provisional data), Montenegro (27.9 % in 2020) and Turkey (25.9 % in 2019). The remaining countries (North Macedonia, Albania, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina) recorded comparable percentage values of fixed capital formation, ranging between 22.1 % and 22.9 %. Investment represented 22.0 % of EU GDP in 2021.
Higher income countries also tend to have higher values for final government expenditure on purchases of goods and services as a share of GDP, although structural factors and policy choices also play a part. While the highest shares of government expenditure in GDP were in Montenegro in 2020, at 22.6 % of GDP, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, at 19.5 % in 2021, these figures are inflated, as previously discussed, by the large external imbalances. Comparison with the Turkish 2019 figure of 15.5 % is not straightforward. The Albanian 2020 provisional of 11.9 % of GDP is again difficult to compare with Kosovo’s 2021 provisional figure of 13.0 % of GDP, given that Kosovo’s negative external balance in goods and services is substantially larger. North Macedonia’s government expenditure was 16.6 % of GDP in 2020 (provisional data), while Serbia’s was 16.8 % of GDP in 2021 (provisional data).
The highest share in GDP of final consumption by households was in Kosovo, at 82.5 % in 2021 (provisional data), followed closely by Montenegro, at 81.2 % in 2020 and Albania, at 80.5 % in 2020 (provisional data). Turkey was at the other side of the scale, with 56.9 % of GDP in 2019, followed at some distance by Serbia, with a share of 65.4 % of GDP in 2021 (provisional data), and North Macedonia, with 67.3 % in 2020 (provisional data), while Bosnia and Herzegovina had a share of 71.2 % of GDP in 2021. Final consumption expenditure of households and non-profit institutions serving households accounted for 51.0 % of EU GDP in 2021.
Changes in inventories / stocks tend to fluctuate from year to year.
Gross value added by economic activity
Analysis of the gross value added by economic activity is useful to illustrate the changes in the structure of an economy over time. The analysis is limited by the fact that the ‘services’ category itself contains a wide variety of activities, such as government, transport services, tourism and business services. The proportion of construction in an economy typically varies over the economic cycle, with the sector doing well in periods of high growth and often contracting during recessions. The data are illustrated in Figure 2.
The size of the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector accounted for an estimated 20.3 % of Albania’s gross value added in 2020 (2021 data not available), by far the largest among the candidate countries and potential candidates. Since 2010, this sector’s share in total GVA has remained stable or decreased across the region. The lowest share of the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector was found in Turkey, at a provisional 2021 figure of 6.3 %. In the other candidate countries and potential candidates, the shares were fairly similar, the highest in North Macedonia, at a provisional 9.0 % in 2021 and the lowest in Bosnia and Herzegovina at 7.1 % (2020 estimate). The EU had a sector share of 1.8 % for agricultural, forestry and fisheries in 2021, unchanged on the 2010 figure.
Turkey had the highest share of industry gross value added in 2021 at 29.0 %. It was followed by a group of candidate countries and potential candidates with similar shares, lying between 23.4 % (provisional) in Kosovo in 2021 and North Macedonia at 19.4 % (estimate). Serbia at 23.1 % (provisional) and Bosnia and Herzegovina at 22.9 % (2020 data) also belonged to this group. Albania at 14.1 % (2020 estimate) and Montenegro at 12.3 % (provisional) had clearly lower shares. The EU had a share of industry in gross value added of 20.2 % in 2021, up from 19.8 % in 2010.
Services accounted for between 54.7 % of gross value added in Albania (2020 estimate) and 73.7 % in Montenegro (provisional) of the total gross value added in each of the candidate countries and potential candidates in 2021. Since the overall services sector is made up of a wide, disparate range of sub-sectors, it is difficult to draw many conclusions, apart from noting the small declines in sector shares since 2010 in Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina (2020 data). In the EU, the share of services in gross value added was 72.4 % in 2021, almost unchanged from 72.6 % in 2010.
Source data for tables and graphs
The enlargement countries are expected to increase the volume and quality of their data progressively, and to transmit these data to Eurostat and the wider ESS in the context of the EU accession process. The final objective of the EU in relation to official statistics is to obtain harmonised, high-quality data that conforms to both European and international standards. More details on the statistical aspects of the accession process can be found in the article Enlargement policy and statistical cooperation.
The enlargement countries are not at the same level of development and are progressing towards an efficient and modern statistical system at different speeds. In a number of areas, candidate countries (and sometimes also potential candidates) are in a position to provide harmonised data in accordance with the EU acquis with respect to methodology, classifications and procedures for data collection and the principles of official statistics as laid down in the European statistics Code of Practice. In these cases, the candidate countries (and potential candidates) concerned report their data to Eurostat following the same procedures and under the same quality criteria as the EU Member States and the EFTA countries. Data from the enlargement countries that meet these quality requirements are published along with data for EU Member States and EFTA countries.
In addition, the enlargement countries provide data for a wide range of indicators for which they do not yet fully adhere to the quality requirements specified in the EU acquis and the methodology, classifications and procedures for data collection specified in the relevant Regulations, Directives and other legal documents. These data are collected on an annual basis through a questionnaire sent by Eurostat to the candidate countries or potential candidates. A network of contacts has been established for updating these questionnaires, generally within the national statistical offices, but potentially including representatives of other data-producing organisations (for example, central banks or government ministries). This annual exercise also provides an opportunity to provide methodological recommendations to the enlargement countries.
The European system of national and regional accounts (ESA) provides the methodology for national accounts in the EU. Data for the EU and the candidate countries and potential candidates were compiled under ESA 2010, which is consistent with worldwide guidelines for national accounts, namely, the United Nations’ system of national accounts (the 2008 SNA).
All statistics presented in this article as monetary values are based on current price series, unless otherwise stated.
The main aggregates of national accounts are compiled from institutional units, namely non-financial or financial corporations, general government, households and non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH). Within the expenditure approach, only households and NPISH and government have final consumption (corporations are considered to have intermediate consumption). Private final consumption expenditure is defined as expenditure on goods and services for the direct satisfaction of individual needs, whereas government consumption expenditure includes goods and services produced by government, as well as purchases of goods and services by government, that are supplied to households as social transfers in kind. Gross capital formation is the sum of gross fixed capital formation, the change in inventories (stocks) and the net acquisition of valuables. The external balance is the difference between exports and imports of goods and services. Depending on the size of exports and imports, it can be positive (a surplus) or negative (a deficit).
While basic principles and institutional frameworks for producing statistics are already in place, the candidate countries and potential candidates are expected to increase progressively the volume and quality of their data and to transmit these data to Eurostat in the context of the EU enlargement process. EU standards in the field of statistics require the existence of a statistical infrastructure based on principles such as professional independence, impartiality, relevance, confidentiality of individual data and easy access to official statistics; they cover methodology, classifications and standards for production.
Eurostat has the responsibility to ensure that statistical production of the candidate countries and potential candidates complies with the EU acquis in the field of statistics. To do so, Eurostat supports the national statistical offices and other producers of official statistics through a range of initiatives, such as pilot surveys, training courses, traineeships, study visits, workshops and seminars, and participation in meetings within the European Statistical System (ESS). The ultimate goal is the provision of harmonised, high-quality data that conforms to European and international standards.
Tables in this article use the following notation:
|Value in italics||data value is forecasted, provisional or estimated and is therefore likely to change;|
|:||not available, confidential or unreliable value.|
National accounts provide an internationally agreed standard for compiling measures of economic activity through a coherent, consistent and integrated set of macroeconomic accounts. These accounts record how economic activity is distributed among businesses, consumers, government and foreign countries, detailing key items such as production, consumption, savings and investment. The use of internationally accepted concepts and definitions permits an analysis of different economies, such as the interdependencies between the economies of the EU Member States, or a comparison between the EU and non-member countries.
Within the EU, multilateral economic surveillance was introduced through the stability and growth pact, which provides for the coordination of fiscal policies. The future of the Stability and Growth pact is currently under discussion.
Economic statistics have become one of the cornerstones of global, regional and national governance, for example, to analyse national economies during the global financial and economic crisis or to put in place EU initiatives such as the European semester or macroeconomic imbalance procedures (MIP).
Additional information on statistical cooperation with the candidate countries and potential candidates is provided here.
* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.
Direct access to
- Candidate countries and potential candidates — statistical overview — online publication
- Statistical cooperation — online publication
- National accounts and GDP — online publication
- Statistical books/pocketbooks
- Key figures on candidate countries and potential candidates — 2019 edition
- Key figures on candidate countries and potential candidates — 2017 edition
- Key figures on the candidate countries and potential candidates — 2014 edition
- Basic figures on enlargement countries — Factsheets — 2021 edition
- Basic figures on enlargement countries — 2020 edition
- Basic figures on candidate countries and potential candidates — 2019 edition
- Basic figures on candidate countries and potential candidates — 2018 edition
- Basic figures on candidate countries and potential candidates — 2016 edition
- Main GDP aggregates (nama_10_ma)
- GDP and main components (output, expenditure and income) (nama_10_gdp)
- Auxiliary indicators (population, GDP per capita and productivity) (nama_10_aux)
- Main GDP aggregates per capita (nama_10_pc)
- Basic breakdowns of main GDP aggregates and employment (by industry and by assets) (nama_10_bbr)
- Gross value added and income by A*10 industry breakdowns (nama_10_a10)
- Main GDP aggregates (nama_10_ma)
- National accounts (ESA 2010) (na10) (ESMS metadata file — na10_esms)