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A Visual Guide to Europe’s Member States

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Map of Europe's member states

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Who are Europe’s Member States?

With Ukraine’s recent bid to join the European Union (EU), the current status of Europe’s member states is back in the fray.

The European member states are countries mainly in Europe, and three outside, that are part of one or more of the four major treaty groups, namely the European Union (EU), NATO, Schengen, and eurozone.

Each of these institutions governs a different aspect of the region’s infrastructure.

Let’s take a look at each of them.

European Union

The European Union (EU) is a unique economic and political union between 27 European countries.

First created as the European Economic Community in the aftermath of WW2, the organization’s main focus was to foster economic cooperation. The idea was simple: countries that trade with one another and become economically interdependent are more likely to avoid conflict.

Beginning with six countries in 1958, the European Economic Community has since added 21 more countries (the UK left the EU in 2020), with a primary focus on single or internal markets.

Here are the countries that comprise the European Union:

NumberCountriesYear of Accession
1🇦🇹 Austria1995
2🇧🇪 BelgiumFounder
3🇧🇬 Bulgaria2007
4🇭🇷 Croatia2013
5🇨🇾 Cyprus2004
6🇨🇿 Czech Republic2004
7🇩🇰 Denmark1973
8🇪🇪 Estonia2004
9🇫🇮 Finland1995
10🇫🇷 FranceFounder
11🇩🇪 GermanyFounder
12🇬🇷 Greece1981
13🇭🇺 Hungary2004
14🇮🇪 Ireland1973
15🇮🇹 ItalyFounder
16🇱🇻 Latvia2004
17🇱🇹 Lithuania2004
18🇱🇺 LuxembourgFounder
19🇲🇹 Malta2004
20🇳🇱 NetherlandsFounder
21🇵🇱 Poland2004
22🇵🇹 Portugal1986
23🇷🇴 Romania2007
24🇸🇰 Slovakia2004
25🇸🇮 Slovenia2004
26🇪🇸 Spain1986
27🇸🇪 Sweden1995

What began as a purely economic union has evolved into an organization pioneering the development of many different policy areas. A name change from the European Economic Community to the European Union in 1993 reflected this.

NATO

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) exists for the sole purpose of facilitating a political and military alliance between its 30 member countries.

Established in 1949 in response to post-WW2 Soviet aggression, NATO exists for the collective defense and security of the group. Members share few laws and regulations. An attack on one constitutes an attack on all, and member states are obligated to defend one another.

The chronological timeline of NATO’s expansion since its establishment paints a fascinating picture.

Timeline of NATO expansion since establishment.

As of 2021, NATO officially recognizes three aspiring NATO members: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, and Ukraine. Ukraine has voiced its desire to join NATO since 2014 but hasn’t met its political and military criteria.

Eurozone

The eurozone is a geographic and economic region that consists of countries that have adopted the euro as their national currency. Approximately 340 million people live in the euro area.

Today, the eurozone consists of 19 countries of the European Union. Here they are:

NumberCountriesYear of Adoption
1🇦🇹 Austria1999
2🇧🇪 Belgium1999
3🇨🇾 Cyprus2008
4🇪🇪 Estonia2011
5🇫🇮 Finland1999
6🇫🇷 France1999
7🇩🇪 Germany1999
8🇬🇷 Greece2001
9🇮🇪 Ireland1999
10🇮🇹 Italy1999
11🇱🇻 Latvia2014
12🇱🇹 Lithuania2015
13🇱🇺 Luxembourg1999
14🇲🇹 Malta2008
15🇳🇱 Netherlands1999
16🇵🇹 Portugal1999
17🇸🇰 Slovakia2009
18🇸🇮 Slovenia2007
19🇪🇸 Spain1999

European Union nations that decide to participate in the eurozone must meet a multitude of financial requirements. They include price stability, sound public finances, the durability of convergence, and exchange rate stability.

Not all countries have to adopt the currency, though. For example, Denmark has a special opt-out clause to use its own currency and maintain its financial independence.

Schengen

The Schengen Area comprises 26 European countries that agreed to create common entry and exit requirements to remove the need for internal borders. This allows travellers up to 90 days of visa-free travel to any of the countries in the Schengen Area.

The border-free Schengen Area guarantees free movement to more than 400 million EU citizens, along with non-EU nationals living in the EU or visiting as tourists, exchange students, or for business purposes.

Here’s a list of the 26 countries that are a part of the Schengen Area:

NumberCountriesYear of Implementation
1🇦🇹 Austria1997
2🇧🇪 Belgium1995
3🇨🇿 Czech Republic2007
4🇩🇰 Denmark2001
5🇪🇪 Estonia2007
6🇫🇮 Finland2001
7🇫🇷 France1995
8🇩🇪 Germany1995
9🇬🇷 Greece2000
10🇭🇺 Hungary2007
11🇮🇸 Iceland2001
12🇮🇹 Italy1997
13🇱🇻 Latvia2007
14🇱🇮 Liechtenstein2011
15🇱🇹 Lithuania2007
16🇱🇺 Luxembourg1995
17🇲🇹 Malta2007
18🇳🇱 Netherlands1995
19🇳🇴 Norway2001
20🇵🇱 Poland2007
21🇵🇹 Portugal1995
22🇸🇰 Slovakia2007
23🇸🇮 Slovenia2007
24🇪🇸 Spain1995
25🇸🇪 Sweden2001
26🇨🇭 Switzerland2008

Monaco, Vatican City, and San Marino also have open borders with Schengen area countries even though they aren’t part of the treaty.

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Which Countries Meet NATO’s Spending Target?

In 2023, only 11 member countries reached NATO’s target of spending 2% of their country’s GDP on defense.

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Bar chart showing Nato defense spending by country

Which Countries Meet NATO’s Spending Target?

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

In 2006, NATO defense ministers agreed that each member country would commit a minimum of 2% of its GDP to defense spending.

This graphic breaks down which members are keeping the agreement, based on data from NATO as of July 2023.

Poland Leads Ahead of the U.S.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a political and military alliance comprising 31 countries. Its primary purpose is to facilitate cooperation among member nations and ensure mutual defense and security.

In 2023, only 11 member countries were on track to meet NATO’s target of spending 2% of their country’s GDP on defense.

The U.S. accounted for 68% of the total defense expenditures by NATO countries, or $860 billion. This amount is over 10 times more than the second-placed country, Germany, if measured in absolute terms.

However, compared to the country’s GDP, the U.S. appears in second place with spending of 3.5% of GDP, behind Poland’s defense spending of $29.1 billion or 3.9% of GDP.

CountryDefense spending in 2023E (% of GDP)
🇵🇱 Poland*3.9
🇺🇸 United States3.5
🇬🇷 Greece3.0
🇪🇪 Estonia2.7
🇱🇹 Lithuania*2.5
🇫🇮 Finland2.5
🇷🇴 Romania*2.4
🇭🇺 Hungary2.4
🇱🇻 Latvia*2.3
🇬🇧 United Kingdom2.1
🇸🇰 Slovak Republic2.0
🇫🇷 France1.9
🇲🇪 Montenegro1.9
🇲🇰 North Macedonia1.9
🇧🇬 Bulgaria1.8
🇭🇷 Croatia1.8
🇦🇱 Albania1.8
🇳🇱 Netherlands1.7
🇳🇴 Norway1.7
🇩🇰 Denmark1.7
🇩🇪 Germany1.6
🇨🇿 Czechia1.5
🇵🇹 Portugal1.5
🇮🇹 Italy1.5
🇨🇦 Canada1.4
🇸🇮 Slovenia1.4
🇹🇷 Turkiye1.3
🇪🇸 Spain1.3
🇧🇪 Belgium1.1
🇱🇺 Luxembourg0.7

Situated in a crucial geopolitical location in Central Europe, Poland has increased its military spending in recent years, primarily due to concerns about escalating instability along the country’s eastern border with Belarus. According to polls, two-thirds of Poles hold a favorable opinion regarding NATO’s activities.

On the other hand, significant economic and military powers are among the members that are falling short. The list includes France (1.9%), Italy (1.5%), Canada (1.4%), and Germany (1.6%).

Despite being on the 2% list, the U.K. reduced the percentage spent in recent years from 2.14% in 2014 to an estimated 2.07% in 2023.

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