European Neighbourhood Policy - South - economic statistics

Data extracted in December 2019.

Planned article update: March 2021.


In 2018, Israel was the only European Neighbourhood Policy-South country to record GDP per capita that was above the average level for the EU.

Morocco and Tunisia were net recipients of foreign direct Investment (FDI) every year between 2008 and 2018.

Analysis of gross value added by economic activity, 2018
(% of total gross value added)
Source: Eurostat (nama_10_a10) for the EU-28

This article is part of an online publication and provides data on economic statistics for nine of the countries that form the European Neighbourhood Policy-South (ENP-South) region —Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine [1] and Tunisia; no recent data are available for Syria. Economic developments in these countries and in the European Union (EU) should be viewed against the backdrop of the global financial and economic crisis that started in 2008 and the social and political changes that have taken place or are still ongoing in several of these countries. The article presents, among others, statistics on gross domestic product (GDP), gross value added at basic prices by economic sector, government finance statistics (on the public balance relative to GDP) and foreign direct investment (FDI).

Full article

Gross domestic product

The global financial and economic crisis had a considerable impact on the 28 Member States of the EU. While the largest contractions in activity — as measured by changes in GDP in real (or constant price) terms — were recorded in 2009, the effects of the crisis and the subsequent sovereign debt crisis were still being felt in several EU Member States for several years thereafter.

By contrast, although there was a partial slowdown in 2009, real GDP growth was maintained throughout the financial and economic crisis in all of the ENP-South countries for which data are presented in Table 1, other than Libya. Although most of the ENP-South countries recorded a slowdown in real GDP growth in 2009, Lebanon and Palestine were exceptions as their rate of economic growth accelerated.

Table 1: Real GDP growth, 2008-2018
(% change compared with previous year)
Source: Eurostat (nama_10_gdp) for the EU-28

In more recent years, real changes in GDP in the ENP-South countries remained positive with only a few exceptions: a fall in 2011 in Tunisia, a small reduction in 2014 in Palestine and a major economic interruption in Libya in 2011. Apart from these rare contractions in output, growth exceeded 2.0 % in most years in most of the ENP-South countries, with slower growth in 2011 in Egypt, in 2015 in Tunisia, in 2016 in Morocco, in 2017 and 2018 in Algeria, and 2018 in Palestine, as well as in several years in Lebanon. The latest rates of change (generally 2016, 2017 or 2018) show real GDP growth ranging from 4.2 % in Egypt (2017 data) down to 1.4 % in Algeria (2018 data), 0.8 % in Palestine (also 2018 data) and 0.6 % in Lebanon (2017 data).

GDP per capita is often used as a measure for overall living standards and the competitiveness of an economy. While the rate of GDP growth across most of the ENP-South countries was relatively rapid during the period shown in Table 2, this was often accompanied by relatively large population increases too. Nevertheless, GDP per capita rose for each of the ENP-South countries (for which time series are available). The most notable gain was in Palestine, as GDP per capita more than doubled (although this was from the lowest level among ENP-South countries in 2008). In Israel, GDP per capita increased by 76 %, while growth of 40 % (2008-2016) was recorded for Morocco, 23 % for Egypt (2008-2017) and 19 % for Tunisia (2008-2015). Growth was somewhat lower in Jordan (13 %; 2008-2016) and Algeria (2 %) and consequently lower than the overall increase recorded for the EU-28 (18 %).

Table 2: GDP per capita, 2008-2018
Source: Eurostat (nama_10_pc) for the EU-28

Based on the latest available data for each of the ENP-South countries, Israel was the only one to record a level of GDP per capita that was above that recorded in the EU-28, surpassing the EU average in 2013: the gap between Israel and the EU-28 for this indicator increased each year through to 2017 and then contracted slightly in 2018, by which time Israel’s GDP per capita was EUR 35.3 thousand compared with EUR 31.0 thousand in the EU-28. The remaining ENP-South countries generally recorded much lower levels of GDP per capita and most were within the range of EUR 1.8 thousand to EUR 3.6 thousand per capita with Egypt at the lower end of this range and Jordan at the top (based on the latest data available for each country). Libya was an exception, although the most recent data are from 2012. As such, GDP per capita in the majority of the ENP-South countries was less than one eighth of the level recorded across the EU-28.

Gross value added

The services sector contributed almost three quarters (73.8 %) of the total gross value added generated in the EU-28 economy in 2018, whereas 19.1 % came from industry, 5.5 % from construction and 1.6 % from agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

In 2018, the structure of the Israeli, Lebanese (2017 data) and Palestinian economies was not dissimilar to that of the EU-28. Lebanon and Palestine had smaller industrial sectors, while in Israel, the sector for agriculture, forestry and fisheries was slightly smaller than that in the EU-28 as was the industrial sector (see Figure 1). All three had larger services sectors.

Figure 1: Analysis of gross value added by economic activity, 2018
(% of total gross value added)
Source: Eurostat (nama_10_a10) for the EU-28

In the remaining five ENP-South countries for which data are available, the sector for agriculture, forestry and fisheries was considerably larger than that in the EU-28, while the industrial sector was also several percentage points bigger. By contrast, the services sector in these countries was often considerably smaller than in the EU-28. The relative importance of the construction sector was more irregular, with Algeria reporting a share considerably above that of the EU-28 (more than twice the size).

General government deficit/surplus

Relatively long time series for general government deficits are available for a few of the ENP-South countries — see Table 3. The EU-28 reported a deficit every year between 2008 and 2018. Measured in relation to GDP, the EU-28’s deficit narrowed from 6.6 % in 2009 to 0.7 % in 2018. In keeping with the latest developments for the EU-28, Israel also reported an unbroken series of deficits between 2008 and 2017, with a peak in 2009 at almost the same level (6.5 % of GDP) as in the EU-28 and its ratio dropping to 1.0 % in 2017 (which was the same ratio as in the EU-28). Tunisia’s only surplus between 2008 and 2014 occurred in 2009. In Algeria, the public balance also recorded deficits throughout the period shown, in the range of 10 to 20 % of GDP until 2016 after which there was a contraction to single figure deficits; at least part of this development can be connected to the effects of the global economic slowdown and the fall in oil/gas prices. By contrast, between 2008 and 2010 Morocco reported a government surplus, whereas from 2011 a deficit was recorded; the deficit widened in 2012 to 4.2 % of GDP, before falling back under 3.0 % between 2013 and 2017.

Table 3: General government deficit/surplus relative to GDP, 2008-2018
(% of GDP)
Source: Eurostat (gov_10dd_edpt1) for the EU-28

Foreign direct investment

All ENP-South countries were net recipients of foreign direct investment

Foreign direct investment (FDI) represents a lasting interest in an enterprise operating in another economy and implies the existence of a long-term relationship between the direct investor and the enterprise. The EU-28 was a net investor abroad for the period 2008-2013; note that there is a break in series in 2013. In 2014 and 2016, the EU-28 was a net recipient of FDI, with net outflows recorded for 2015 and 2017. A long time series is available for Israel, which was a net recipient of FDI for all but two (2010 and 2016) of the years between 2008 and 2017, while Algeria was a net recipient of FDI in all years but one (2015) between 2008 and 2018. Long time series are also available for Lebanon and Tunisia (see Tables 4 and 5), both of which reported that they were net recipients of FDI for all years between 2008 and 2018.

Table 4: Foreign direct investment
(FDI) outflows, 2008-2018
(million EUR)
Source: Eurostat (bop_fdi_flow_r2) and (bop_fdi6_flow) for the EU-28
Table 5: Foreign direct investment
(FDI) inflows, 2008-2018
(million EUR)
Source: Eurostat (bop_fdi_flow_r2) and (bop_fdi6_flow) for the EU-28

Data sources

The data for ENP-South countries are supplied by and under the responsibility of the national statistical authorities of each country on a voluntary basis. The data that are presented in this article result from an annual data collection cycle that has been established by Eurostat. No recent data are available from Syria. These statistics are available free-of-charge on Eurostat’s website, together with a range of different indicators covering most socio-economic areas.

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;
not applicable.


Indicators derived from national accounts provide a picture of a country’s economic situation; they are widely used for analysis and forecasting, as well as policymaking. The global financial and economic crisis reinforced the need to develop more robust national accounts and government finance statistics in order to improve the surveillance and monitoring of financial systems and the impact that financial crises may have on economies, while also providing additional valuable information to support economic initiatives geared towards recovery.

On 18 November 2015, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commission jointly presented a review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (SWD(2015) 500 final) which underlined a new approach for the EU in relation to its eastern and southern neighbours, based on stabilising the region in political, economic, and security-related terms.

In cooperation with its ENP partners, Eurostat has the responsibility ‘to promote and implement the use of European and internationally recognised standards and methodology for the production of statistics necessary for developing and monitoring policy achievements in all policy areas’. Eurostat undertakes the task of coordinating EU efforts to increase the statistical capacity of the ENP countries. Additional information on the policy context of the ENP is provided here.


  1. This designation shall not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of the Member States on this issue.
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