European FDI Investment Statistics

Europe has 750 million inhabitants out of which 508 million live inside the EU (UK included). As a result of historical events the central core of Europe, so-called blue banana, stretches from the industrial center of Manchester in the United Kingdom up to Milano in Italy. It is home to 100 million people and is the worlds densest region in terms of population, money, buying power, industries and economic power. In more recent times though a new axis of wealth has been created in the direction of Berlin and from Paris to the north of Spain, effectively creating a ‘star’ rather than a ‘banana’ type core. In addition, the economy of the highly populated European shores at the Mediteranean sea is growing well into Europe’s ‘golden sunbelt banana’. On the eastern side of Western Europe,  the lower labour costs are attracting a lot production activities too (red).  Europe is on the move…..

… Click on chart to enlarge …

A Foreign Direct investment (FDI) is made to acquire a lasting interest in an enterprise operating outside of the economy of the investor. FDI net inflows are the value of inward direct investment, either in greenfield investments or merger & acquisitions, made by non-resident investors in the reporting economy, including reinvested earnings and intra-company loans, net of repatriation of capital and repayment of loans. The UNCTAD is collecting the data annually from a variety of sources such as banks, national authorities, the Worldbank, OECD. High FDI values are often associated with strong well developed economies but the investments are not always injected in the local economy as such.

Europe: Focus on real growth projects

Some organisations prefer to focus also on real investments in the local economy,  as they have the largest impact on the local economic growth path.  For this,  they follow up on the annual number of new greenfield projects , new jobs and new M&A deals.

Global FDI has reached 1700 billion $ in 2015 and real ‘greenfield investment’ accounts for 41% of the total. Europe’s FDI reached 258 billion $. The region attracted over +5000 new projects, representing close to 50% of the global number of FDI projects. As such and on a global scale, it is  “the number one region” in terms of amount of FDI projects (but not in terms accumulated $-investments).

Germany, United Kingdom and France together  received 51% of all European FDI projects. Western-Europe attracted most of the projects, although Central and Eastern Europe created more jobs and demonstrated the largest FDI growth-level.

All together, Europe created approximately 220.000 jobs in 2015. Historically the USA has been the largest investor in Europe, traditionally holding a marketshare between 20 an 26%, but in recent years the number of investments from China are rising quickly.


Ernst & Young: Europe Attractiveness Survey 2016; May 24th 2016. Author: Marc Lhermitte (EY Advisory) . 

fDi Intelligence: The fDi report2016; May 12th 2016.  Author: Courtney Fingar (Editor in Chief).                       

The cumulated historical value of the FDI Inward Stock is an indicator of the long-term investments of foreign companies in a country. Especially the value per capita illustrates the density of investments and the impact of foreign corporations on the local economy. You are not alone, when investing in a country with high stock value….




source: Unctad

 Wind power in EU-countries

The European Commission had put in place an ambitious plan to establish a lot of  production capacity for renewable energy, and in particular wind energy. In the year 2020,  20% of total European energy need should be covered by renewable energy and 10% of transport energy should be renewables. Wind energy plays a central role in the plan and today, total installed wind capacity exceeds the energy output of two large nuclear power plants. However, wind energy production capacity is not evenly distributed among EU-countries and corporations with a need for this energy, may take this into consideration.    (Source : EWEA and GWEC)

65% of wind power capacity is concentrated in 4 EU-countries
26.4 billion euro was invested in wind energy in 2015 in EU
11% of total EU electricity production done with wind energy
44% of all energy investments in year 2015 in wind energy
92% on-shore and 8% off-shore windmills

Real Estate Renting Costs

Real estate renting costs vary according to quality, age and location in a particular country. Notwithstanding, the charts illustrate differences in cost among countries too.





Source: Cushmann & Wakefield; European Marketbeat 2015.

Labor cost


Labor costs, often,  constitute a significant part of operational costs. There is still a large variation in labor costs among European countries and it can play a substantial role in the selection of the optimal location for a new investment. However, it is advised, to look into the fine-tuned picture before taking decisions. Other, related, issues vary too among countries such as….the role of trade unions, incentives for specific classes of labor, language capabilities and other competences, termination conditions, social security coverage, productivity and cultural differences.

The Grand Picture

Due to varations in characteristics among regions (purchasing power, cost issues…), each of the European regions have their role to play in the current continental economy. Western Europe (blue), most advanced rich economy offers close distance to market and an excellent environment for logistical operations and high tech corporations; eastern Europe (yellow), still demonstrating attractive labor costs, offers opportunities for lower cost production activities and good access to Russia; South Eastern Europe (red) offers the lowest labor costs and good access to Asia but a larger distance to major European markets. South Western Europe (green) has a less pronounced profile; it does not have the lower labour cost nor the close distance to major markets.

Western Europe

  • Prime pan-European logistical location

  • High-tech automated production

  • Advanced know-how centers

  • Leading consumer market

South Western Europe

  • Distribution to regional market

  • Production for regional market

  • Solar energy related investments

  • Tourism

Eastern Europe

  • Prime pan-European production location

  • Regional distribution

  • Lower labour cost

  • Gateway to Russia

South Eastern Europe

  • Regional distribution

  • Production for regional market

  • Lowest labour cost

  • Gateway to Asia

The World Economic Forum evaluates the readiness of countries for international business competitition on an annual basis. The benchmark is based on a large variety of criteria. High ranking countries offer the environment for your company to conduct cross-border business in a competitive way. Sometimes business objectives require the presence of a stimulating innovative environment. The European Commission evaluates the innovation performance of each of the European countries on an annual basis.

Pan-European supply routes for raw materials and end-products


There are two options: the northern supply route with major ports on the North Sea, such as Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg…and the southern route covering ports in Italy and Slovenia (Genoa, La Spezia, Koper and Trieste). The third option, supply from the black sea (eastern gate) is of less importance though, due to the complex hinterland connection by truck and train to end-destination. The main criteria for the selection of a destination port are cost, quality of service and delivery time to end-destination. The northern gate is the most popular one, with the three main ports receiving     30.709.000 TEU of products a year (2015), while the southern gate (Genoa, La Spezia, Koper and Trieste) has a throughput of   4.840.000 TEU.

There is a lot of competition between the North Sea ports and they perform in the same league. Hamburg, on average, is closer to Poland while both, Antwerp and Hamburg, are equally distant from southern Germany. Locations in southern Europe are closest to Antwerp. The port of Antwerp is known for a very short delivery time using advanced multi-model systems, but sometimes, is slightly more expensive. Selection of a port destination has to be done for each project individually and, also, on the basis of the end-destination. A study from the Bundesvereinigung Logisitik (DE; 2009) identified the Port of Antwerp as the best port for supply of goods from China to East-Europe. However the differences between the three main North Sea ports remain limited and parameters can change quickly.

Sources: A ‘best route’ market study for containerized imports to South Germany( 2016); Drewry.    Alternative Verkehrswege von China nach Ost-Europa (2012); Bundesvereinigung Logistik (DE) and ROI Management Cons.

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