With a gross domestic product equivalent to more than US$ 2.5 trillion, the United Kingdom is the third largest economy in Europe. The British decision to leave the European Union is a turning point in the histories of both the country and the continent.
The United Kingdom is an economic heavyweight: Europe's third largest economy, the fifth largest in the world, it hosts production facilities for numerous car manufacturers and the headquarters of global oil giants. London is also the world’s second most important financial centre after New York. The UK is the world leader in derivative and currency transactions, and nowhere in Europe are there more private equity firms and hedge funds than in London. Responsible for 8 percent of the country’s GDP, the British financial sector is of huge economic significance.
The economic ties binding Europe and the United Kingdom are strong: just under half of British exports go to the EU. Germany is Britain's most important trading partner in Europe while the UK is the Germany’s third most important export market. In a referendum held on 23 June 2016, the majority of the British electorate voted in favour of leaving the European Union. The “Brexit” they opted for will preoccupy the UK and the rest of Europe for a good while to come.