25 Most Powerful Countries in Europe

In this article, we take a look at the 25 most powerful countries in Europe. You can skip our detailed analysis of the European power dynamics and go directly to the 10 Most Powerful Countries in Europe

When it comes to power in international relations, there are really only three dimensions to it: economic power, military strength and political influence.

In this regard, Europe is one of the most power-concentrated continents in the world. Six of its countries are in the G20, with three of the five members of the UN Security Council also being European. 

Further, the European Union (EU) and NATO are the two most powerful blocs in the world, unrivaled in their power. 

How the EU is Punishing Russia With Economic Power

While Europe, particularly Western Europe, is one of the top regions in military power, it’s really the economic power where the region is overwhelmingly dominant. 

This is largely the result of the European Union, whose overall GDP size stood at $16 trillion in 2021, allowing member countries to force-multiply and act as a unit, particularly in trade and commerce. 

For instance, one of the factors that traditionally made it hard for Russia to have an effective “pivot to Asia ” policy, was the gargantuan share of EU-countries when it comes to Russian exports. They consumed 50% of all Russian-made goods and services prior to 2022.

Despite China being Russia’s top trading partner with a 14% share, the latter’s trade with only three countries — Germany, Italy and Netherlands — accounted for over 20% of its overall trade prior to the Ukraine war.

After the war, there was a decline of 35% in Russian oil shipments to the EU due to western sanctions at the end of the first quarter of 2022. Although Russia managed to recover the marine oil outflow and revenue, largely due to the price spike resulting from the supply shock, it still came at tremendous price cuts and discounts.

However, in December, 2022, the EU and the UK decided to ban all marine oil from Russia while putting a price cap of $60 per barrel on oil it sells to other countries, further dealing a severe blow to the Russian oil revenue.

This has been done in light of the pervasive economic power of the Western European countries. One of the ways the price cap will be implemented is through denying shipping insurance and other financial services to any tanker carrying Russian oil that is purchased above the price cap set by Western countries. 

It is because most of the maritime services for crude tankers are based in Western Europe, including the EU countries and the UK. 

Further, Russia is highly dependent on import of services from Western European countries. In this regard, the European Union has prohibited the provision of services that include tax consulting, accounting, auditing and bookkeeping by corporate bodies of its member-countries, since June, 2022. 

The scope was widened to include services like IT consultancy, engineering services and market research among a number of others during October and December of 2022.

Major European companies like Deutsche Bank Aktiengesellschaft (NYSE:DB) and BP p.l.c (NYSE:BP) had already left Russia before these measures, amid mounting criticism from investors. Deutsche Bank Aktiengesellschaft (NYSE:DB) announced its withdrawal in March, 2022, while BP p.l.c (NYSE:BP)’s board decided to close its 20% stake in Russian businesses in February, 2022.

Rearming Europe

Apart from economic power, the European military strength is also one of the most formidable in the world. The EU’s military spending was at a historic low of 1.3% of its overall GDP in 2014 but it has consistently risen following the Russian takeover of Crimea in 2014, and the then Trump administration’s demands for increased military spending by other NATO countries. As of 2021, military spending in the EU has aggregated at 32% in real terms. 

The continent is home to three nuclear powers — Russia, The UK and France — and its total military budget falls just behind the US. In 2020, the total European military spending topped at $378 billion

Political Influence

Europe’s political influence is also far-reaching. Many individual countries on the continent have their respective influence in global affairs. However, the EU again prevails here over individual European countries and it is second only to the US in terms of its global political influence. 

Let’s now move on to the 25 most powerful countries in Europe.

25 Most Powerful Countries in Europe


Our Methodology

We have defined ‘powerful European countries’ as ones which have significant economic, military and political strength. In this regard, we have ranked them in descending order of an averaged-out ranking of economic, military and political power. 

For military strength, we’ve ranked them based on the Global Firepower Index of 2023. For economic strength, the countries have been ranked based on the size of their GDPs and finally, for political influence, they’ve been ranked based on the averaged-out scores of two reports: the CEO World Report and The Brand Finance’s Global Soft Power Index

We have used the GDP ranking as a tiebreaker for countries with the same averaged-out rankings. The rankings have been adjusted based on the final average.

Here are the 25 most powerful countries in Europe. 

25. Slovakia

Military Ranking: 24


Economic Ranking: 24


Political-Influence Ranking: 25

Slovakia is a landlocked country located in Central Europe. It has a GDP of $116.5 billion as of 2021. It is a member of the EU and officially became a NATO member in 2004.

24. Bulgaria

Military Ranking: 22


Economic Ranking: 26


Political-Influence Ranking: 23

Bulgaria is a country located in the Balkans. Although it has a small economy, it has an educated workforce with a growing technology sector. It has been an EU member since 2007 and a NATO member since 2004.

23. Hungary

Military Ranking: 20


Economic Ranking: 23


Political-Influence Ranking: 22

Hungary has a GDP of $182 billion as of 2021 and a strong military with a considerable number of assets in its land and air forces. Its army’s armor units operate 176 tanks, with the air force operating 57 aircraft, as per the Global Firepower Index.

22. Ireland

Military Ranking: 29


Economic Ranking: 13


Political-Influence Ranking: 19

Ireland is one of the richest countries in Europe, with a GDP of $504.2 billion as of 2021. Its riches, combined with its political influence, make it one of the most powerful countries in Europe. Ireland lags behind some other countries on the list in military power, but that is largely due to the country’s strategic neutrality.

21. Romania

Military Ranking: 16


Economic Ranking: 18


Political-Influence Ranking: 24

Romania is located in Eastern Europe. It has been an EU and NATO member since 2007 and 2004, respectively. The strong military and economy make it one of the most powerful countries in Europe.

20. Czech Republic

Military Ranking: 17


Economic Ranking: 19


Political-Influence Ranking: 20

The Czech Republic is one of the most powerful countries in Europe. It’s one of the few countries in Europe with a military that is, in large part, armed by the domestic defense industry, which includes companies like Česká Zbrojovka (CZ), Aero Vodochody and Tatra.

19. Belgium

Military Ranking: 25


Economic Ranking: 12


Political-Influence Ranking: 17

Belgium has a GDP of nearly $0.6 trillion as of 2021. It has a well-developed and diversified economy, with exports accounting for 87% of the country’s GDP as of 2021. It lags behind some other countries in defense spending due to strategic neutrality.

However, the country punches above its weight in terms of political influence for exactly the same reason. Both NATO and the EU headquarters are located in Brussels, making it one of the most important diplomatic cities in the world. Belgium is also a founding member of the Eurozone and World Trade Organization.

18. Austria

Military Ranking: 27


Economic Ranking: 14


Political-Influence Ranking: 12

Austria is located in the southern part of Central Europe. It is one of the most powerful countries in Europe, particularly in economic and political terms.  

Austria’s economy is highly diversified, and its market is home to native but renowned companies like Glock Ges.m.b.H, and also foreign European companies like Deutsche Bank Aktiengesellschaft (NYSE:DB) and BP p.l.c (NYSE:BP).

17. Finland

Military Ranking: 19


Economic Ranking: 17


Political-Influence Ranking: 15

Finland is a Scandinavian country with a highly developed and diversified economy and market, with renowned companies like Nokia. Finland became a member of the EU and Eurozone in 1995 and 1999, respectively. 

Finland applied for membership in NATO in May, 2022 due to Russian aggression in Ukraine and Finland’s own security concerns pertaining to Russia.

16. Portugal

Military Ranking: 14


Economic Ranking: 20


Political-Influence Ranking: 16

Portugal is a member of the European Council and has representation in the European Parliament, giving the country a significant political edge in Europe.

15. Ukraine

Military Ranking: 6


Economic Ranking: 22


Political-Influence Ranking: 21

Ukraine has proven its military capability to the world by inflicting significant losses on Russia, despite the latter being one of the top military powers in the world. Following the war, Europe has rallied to aid Ukraine militarily, building up its impressive armed inventory, especially in land and air power. 

Its military is operating nearly 2,000 tanks, roughly the same number of artillery guns and 312 aircraft, which include 69 fighter jets, as per Global Firepower Index of 2023.

14. Greece

Military Ranking: 10


Economic Ranking: 21


Political-Influence Ranking: 14

Greece has had a history of economic mismanagement, leading to the country defaulting on its debt in 2015. However, it still has an impressive GDP of $215 billion, for a population of only 10.6 million. It is largely due to the fact that Greece has a highly developed services sector, which accounts for 79% of its GDP.

It is also one of the strongest military powers in Europe, owing to its historical disputes with Turkey. Its military operates 13 frigates, 10 submarines, over 1,360 tanks, 1,319 artillery guns and 635 aircraft, with 193 fighters. 

Moreover, the country enjoys significant soft power due to its historical cultural influence in philosophy, arts, architecture, politics and literature.

13. Denmark

Military Ranking: 18


Economic Ranking: 16


Political-Influence Ranking: 11

Denmark is one of the most powerful countries in Europe. It has a GDP of nearly $400 billion as of 2021, with a population of only 5.8 million. It is also home to some of the biggest companies in the world, like Ascendis Pharma A/S (NASDAQ:ASND). 

Ascendis Pharma A/S (NASDAQ:ASND) has a market cap of $6.13 billion as of Q4, 2022, making it one of the biggest Danish companies. Apart from Ascendis Pharma A/S (NASDAQ:ASND), other major Danish corporate names include Coloplast, Carlsberg and Tryg etc.

12. Norway

Military Ranking: 11


Economic Ranking: 15


Political-Influence Ranking: 10

Norway is another one of the most powerful countries in Northern Europe. It is due to a combination of factors including a diversified economy, strong military, and political capital through organizations like the European Economic Area and World Trade Organization.

11. Poland

Military Ranking: 7


Economic Ranking: 10


Political-Influence Ranking: 18

Poland has one of the strongest militaries in Europe, along with one of the strongest economies. It is still working its way up in terms of political influence within the EU, with 52 of its Members of the European Parliament. 

However, the country has political tensions with some other EU members over issues like rule of law, judiciary and the environment. 


Click to continue reading and see the 10 Most Powerful Countries in Europe.


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Disclosure: none. 25 Most Powerful Countries in Europe is originally published on Insider Monkey.


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