There used to be a lot of customs unions, currency unions and so on in Europe. Many of those were absorbed by the EU, but surely there are others that still exist. Another way of looking at this is, should the EU disintegrate what would the next largest trade or economic organization in Europe be?

To be clear, in order to answer this question from my perspective the organization:

  1. Can include EU members, but must be governed independently of the EU.
  2. Include primarily or exclusively European states, but if it has a few debatable or explicitly non-European states, that is fine (e.g. Iceland, Cyprus, Israel) as long as they are states which have strong European ties.
  3. Be related primarily to trade or economics, such as a customs union or a shared currency.
  • Not so sure that there used to be many customs or currency unions but what about Germany? It's more populous than the Benelux or all Nordic countries together…
    – Relaxed
    May 19, 2016 at 18:19
  • Personally, I'd be looking for more of an answer than just Germany, as I think the question is looking for centers of power involving multiple countries? It's an interesting comment, though. May 19, 2016 at 18:21
  • @Relaxed Yes. This question is not about economies, but international organizations. May 19, 2016 at 18:25
  • @ThePompitousofLove I guess my point is that European countries are very diverse in size to begin with… But clearly, that's not an answer.
    – Relaxed
    May 19, 2016 at 19:41
  • I do not have enough data to post a full answer, but the Commonwealth of Independent States Free Trade Area, a group of ex-SU countries, could be a possible winner in terms of population and GDP (even if counting only the European members). Of course, it seems that the integration is far way less complete than EU, and has some issues due to the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
    – SJuan76
    May 20, 2016 at 15:50

2 Answers 2


No EU country may enter economic treaties with other countries on its own - everything has to be done through the EU. That's the core principle of the Single Market. Within the EU there is (nearly) absolute freedom of movement for goods anyway, while all goods entering the Single Market from outside the EU have to adhere to common rules.

So the answer is simple - no such organization can exist by definition. Either it includes the entire EU or it cannot function in any meaningful way.


I guess the British Commonwealth is quite large, but then much of it is outside Europe.

There is also the Nordic Passport Union (Denmark (including the Faroe Islands and Greenland), Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland). Not very large.

  • This is on the right track, but how would I compare the two, and how would they compare to the EU? May 20, 2016 at 13:58
  • The Nordic Passport Union isn't an economic organisation at all.
    – Relaxed
    May 21, 2016 at 6:51

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