**UK on course to become Europe’s largest economy
The UK is on course to become Europe’s largest economy within two decades, overtaking France and Germany, according to a new report.
The think tank Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) predicts the UK’s GDP will first move to fifth place ahead of France by 2018 before leapfrogging Germany around 2030.
However, despite being forecast to be the second most successful of the Western economies after the US, it will fall behind the accelerating economies of India and Brazil.**
This study is essentially a slightly more EUsceptic rehash of projections made by the EU Commission itself back at the start of December that the UK is expected to become its largest economy by 2030, outstripping France and Germany. If this comes to fruition, it will have massive repercussions although largely positive ones I would imagine for the US, which desires its strongest ally the UK to, as Obama said only last year “be at the heart” of a united Europe, for America’s own strategic benefit:
First the good, and somewhat surprising, news; according to new projections by the European Commission, Britain will be Europe’s biggest economy by some distance within 45 years, with France in second position and Germany pushed back into third place.…
And now for the bad news, depending on your point of view; this position will have been largely won on the back of population growth.
The postulated switch in positions is deemed likely in part because of Britain’s higher fertility rate – we have more babies per head of population than much of the rest of Europe. In terms of demography, Britain is already a younger country than Germany…
Even so, these are startling projections, with profound implications, both for domestic policy and for the geopolitical make-up of Europe. If they are even halfway true, it is clear that neither Britain nor Europe are remotely prepared for what’s coming. In order to cope, the UK would have to invest massively in new housing, schools, hospitals and other public services.
The centre of gravity in Europe would also shift decisively away from Germany to Britain, transforming the UK’s position in the EU and her relationship with the rest of the world. Other members of the European Union would find it more difficult to “gang up” on the UK, which would naturally assume the position of disproportionate influence now occupied by Germany.
To me it is clear that the UK’s future, or best future, would be for the current trends to continue and for Britain to become the largest economy at the heart of a greatly reformed but united and strong EU, albeit with the leading nation (the UK) having hard power and a strong military (not to mention its nuclear weapons capacity) on top of Germany’s current soft power, which I think would better for the European Union as a whole in security terms given that other than NATO the EU itself lacks a single pan-European security architecture.
I think this would be good for the Atlantic community of democracies, the West, as a whole, as the UK is the most ‘Atlanticist’ (ie closest partner of the US) in Europe. As an example the UK is the EU nation pushing the most for the projected free-trade agreement with the US which is presently being negotiated:
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and the United States of America (USA). Proponents say the agreement would result in multilateral economic growth, while critics say it would increase corporate power and make it more difficult for governments to regulate markets for public benefit. The American government considers the TTIP a companion agreement to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. After a proposed draft was leaked in March 2014, the European Commission launched a public consultation on a limited set of clauses.
The agreement could be finalised by the end of 2014