Western Europe offers one of the best business environments in the world with an extremely sophisticated IT infrastructure. Yet, increasing divisiveness due to growing income inequality, further escalated by an increased flow of migrants and rising populism, is threatening future political stability, while Brexit is adding to economic uncertainty.
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Western Europe has one of the best business environments in the world but growing income inequality coupled with immigration has led to divisive societies, triggering populist movements resulting in outcomes such as Brexit. On the other hand, Turkey is an emerging power within the region and France is fast updating its policies to align more closely with the principles of the free market economy.
The prolonged period of economic recession since the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 has led to legislative changes that make it easier for businesses to hire and fire people. Labour market reforms are simplifying business in the region, although there is a risk of widening income inequality that could threaten political stability in the future. Greece’s labour market remains particularly rigid, creating challenges for employers.
Western Europe has the third largest youth unemployment rate in the world, led by Greece where nearly half its young workforce were unemployed in 2017, much of which is attributed to skills mismatch. Improving internet facilities mean that people can pursue distance learning at their own pace and the number of students in higher education has increased. At the same time, technology is also making it easier to be self-employed.
Western Europe is aiming to be the global leader in IT and has one of the most ambitious plans for future IT infrastructure. The EU is investing €9.2 billion to have faster and more robust networks, speedier transmission of data and more skilled IT workers by 2025.
Western Europe suffers from an ageing transport infrastructure leading to disruptions and delays in commuting, but governments have embarked on major infrastructure projects, expected to be completed by 2030.