The EU is the 3rd largest entity in population, after China (1,300,000) and India (1,200,000). USA is a distant 4rh, at 310,000,000. Brazil, another one of the so called BRICs, is 5th with 192,000.000 and Russia 8th with 143,000,000. Among other fast developing ones, all members of the WTO, are Japan 148,000,000, South Africa with 51,000,000 and South Korea with 49,000,000.
In terms of GDP, the EU ranks slightly higher than the US, at No1, with 16 trillion USD, USA 14.5 trillion. China is distant third with 5.8 trillion and Japan 4th with 5.4 trillion.
What do these above numbers mean?
That in spite of all its problems, eg the Euro crisis, the fact that Germans tend to save than consume, compared eg with the Americans, its expensive currency that is shared by 17 of its 27 members (330,000,000 population, in the Eurozone), the EU is the wrrld's most lucrative market, for the world!
The EU is the largest export market for the world's No1 exporter, China, in value, larger even than the US now! The world's number 2 exporter, Germany, exported 41% of its exports (in value) to the rest of the Eurozone in 2011 and 60% in the EU! Only 40% outside the EU!
What do the above mean?
That the EU could take better care of its Internal (aka Single) Market for the benefit not only of its consumers and China, US, South Korean, Canadian, Indian, Brazilian, South African et al exports which are imported in the EU!
The PIIGS, the French, the Brtish, the Austrians, the Dutch, the Belgians, all 27 EU and 17 Eurozone contribute to making the EU market so important for the US, Chinese, German, Dutch, and other exporters.
What do they get in return? By allowing more or less every economy in the world to export to the EU more or less everything, the EU has undermined its own Internal-Single market, in return for some exports to these countries but at the cost of its less competitive, for various reasons, parts.
Should the EU raise its trade barriers a bit or the Eurozone lower the Euro some so as to give products and services from its less competitive regions a better chance inside the EU market?
Maybe. But at least, it should acknowledge the cost the EU's and Eurozone's less competitive regions pay as a result of the EU's near open door policy to the world's products and services!