“The worst of the crisis may now be behind us,” says Olli Rehn, the EU
commissioner in charge of economic policy.
He made that cautious statement while unveiling improved eurozone growth forecasts of 1.2 percent this year and 1.8 percent for 2015.
“Recovery in the European Union is gaining ground and spreading across countries, although it remains still modest, Rehn said.
But he does not see a significant drop in the record unemployment rate which will barely budge from record highs of 12 percent in 2015: “Unemployment remains high in many member states, as we know, although we expect some improvement in the course of this year and next year.”
Rehn warned countries not to become complacent saying: “To make the recovery stronger and create more jobs, we need to stay the course of economic reform.”
Germany, the euro zone’s biggest economy, is set for expansion of 1.8 percent this year and would accelerate away from France and Italy according to the Commission experts’ calculations.
The No.2 economy France is expected to grow 1.0 percent in 2014.
The statistics also made clear the scale of the challenge facing Italy and its new prime minister, Matteo Renzi, in turning around the bloc’s third-largest economy. The Commission predicts meagre growth of 0.6 percent this year.
The figures draw a clear dividing line in the eurozone between southern countries such as Greece, struggling economically and arguing for more freedom to spend, and Germany, buoyed by strong exports and determined to enforce thrift.