France’s economy plunges by 3.3 times the rate of the UK economy

Graham Charles Lear
5 min readMay 17, 2020


Without the Coronavirus, the UK Government would surely have issued a very positive economic statement on Friday. In the first quarter of this year, the UK’s economy performed far better than the combined economy of the EU27. It performed better still against the combined economy of the EU19 Eurozone.

Friday, Brussels: In its latest release of economic results for the EU, the Commission’s official statistics agency has published some numbers which will shock hundreds of millions of EU citizens.

The EU versus the UK — latest figures for the economies

1. The EU’s total GDP in Q1 2020 compared to Q1 2019

EU’s GDP in Q1 2019: €3,673 billion

EU’s GDP in Q1 2020: €3,041 billion

Percentage change: -17.2%

The above shows what has happened to the EU’s overall economic output in the last year — the total of the GDP of the EU28 in Q1 2019 compared to the total of the EU27 in Q1 2020. In 2019 the UK was a member. At the end of January this year the UK ceased to be a member.

The dramatic fall in the EU’s total GDP this year stems from Coronavirus and from the departure of the UK.

2. What happens if the EU pretends the UK hadn’t been a member of the EU last year?

In its statement on Friday, the EU statistics agency has inexplicably excluded the UK from its combined data for 2019. It is as if the UK had not been a member at that time.

Below I comment on this extraordinary action by the official statistics agency of the EU Commission. For completeness, however, I am showing the figures produced by the EU on Friday, which compare only the EU27 last year with the EU27 this year.

EU27’s GDP in Q1 2019: €3,122 billion

EU27’s GDP in Q1 2020: €3,041 billion

Percentage change: -2.6%

In the Eurozone of 19 EU countries, the combined GDP was affected even faster — by -3.2%.

3. And finally, the UK economy beats the EU in either scenario above

UK’s GDP in Q1 2019: €549.9 billion

UK’s GDP in Q1 2020: €541.1 billion

Percentage change: -1.6%

Even if we take out the effect on the total EU economy of the UK leaving,
the EU27’s GDP has fallen at a rate of 60% faster than the UK’s rate.
And the Eurozone’s GDP has fallen at double the UK’s rate.

The EU is not a country — How are the individual EU countries doing?

A very common mistake made by anti-Brexit campaigners is to refer to the EU as if it were a country. It is not. It is made up of 27 different countries and 27 different economies.

On Friday the EU published the changes in the economies of most of its members in the first quarter of this year. The UK used to be the EU’s second-largest economy, worth more than 18 smaller member countries combined — until the UK left in January this year.

Since January, the top three EU economies are:-

  1. Germany — fell 44% faster than the UK
  2. France — fell by 3.3 times the UK rate
  3. Italy — fell by 3 times the UK rate

Finally, here’s a fact for all the Remainer-Rejoiners out there

Whenever I publish articles such as this, I get inundated on social media by anti-Brexit campaigners who just can’t accept genuine facts which I produce from the EU itself. In this case, they are desperate to prove that the rest of the EU suffered from Coronavirus before the UK did.

I have one or two final, uncomfortable facts for them:

Anti-Brexit campaigners may wish to know that the German economy went negative in the final quarter of last year. The official German statistics agency admitted it last week, correcting the GDP figures which they published some months ago.

Please do correct me if I am wrong, but I thought that there was no Coronavirus effect in Oct-Dec last year?

GDP growth in Germany has now been negative in three out of the last five quarters. That’s worth thinking about for a moment.

And it was negative in the last two, so Germany is officially in recession.

The simple fact is that if you compare the EU’s total GDP in the first quarter of this year with the same period last year, it has plunged by 17.2%. This is a fact. The figures come from the EU’s official statistics agency on Friday.

The agency chose not to mention this fact, but I delved into their raw data as usual and it’s all there.

Quite incredibly, once again the EU Commission has published a report which airbrushes the UK out of the picture. Its statistics agency provides commentary showing the fall in GDP between Q1 2019 and Q1 2020 but EXCLUDES the UK from these figures as if the UK had never been a member.

Stalin would have been proud.

The EU is not one country

In the piece above I have included the information from the EU, showing GDP as if the EU27 were one country. I have even shown the fall in GDP in the EU27 (excluding the UK) even though I feel this is highly misleading.

Anti-Brexit campaigners are forever trying to present the EU as if it were one country, thereby trying to show the United Kingdom (their own country!) as somehow small and insignificant by comparison.

There are two thoughts I would like to share about this, on this Coronavirus Sunday in mid-May 2020.

1. With the exception of the multi-nationals, the vast majority of businesses trade with businesses in another country, not with the EU. I have always discussed and then implemented a strategy by the individual country and then targeted companies, not by whether that country was a member of the EU. Indeed in many cases, it is easier to deal with companies in the Commonwealth and other countries around the world, than it is with certain countries in the EU.

2. The second point is highly topical. When the whole Coronavirus crisis hit, “EU solidarity” went out of the window in every capital across the EU. It was every country for itself — borders closed, the free movement stopped, exports of essential goods to other EU countries were banned. The EU Commission has been desperately trying to salvage the situation ever since.

Let's end on quite a positive point.

This has been a good week for the UK. David Frost and the UK negotiating team stood up firmly to Michel Barnier and the nonsense being spouted by the EU. The EU Commission itself is clearly still reeling from the decision of the German Constitutional Court that the ECJ is not supreme and that the ECB must stop its bailouts unless it can prove something it can’t.

And the UK’s economy has been shown to be coping rather better than many EU countries, in the first quarter of this year.

Sources: EU Commission — GDP figures



Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.