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European countries fill five of the top six slots in the latest tally of the world’s most competitive economies.

Switzerland was top for the fourth year running, followed by Singapore, then Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany.

The US slipped from fifth to seventh place while Britain rose from 10th to eighth.

The rankings are compiled by the World Economic Forum, which looks at official data and surveys thousands of leading business executives.

The survey showed vast differences in Europe with Spain in 36th position, Italy was 42nd, Portugal at 49 and Greece in 96th place out of a total of 144 nations surveyed.

There was even worse for Greece as in a separate rating of macroeconomic environment it was dead last in 144th place.

The survey’s authors at the World Economic Forum said that “low levels of productivity and competitiveness do not warrant the salaries that workers in Southern Europe enjoy”.

They blame political deadlock for preventing some European countries from taking a longer term approach to improving competitiveness to stabilise future growth.

Copyright © 2014 euronews

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