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EU casts doubt on British growth prospects amid Brexit uncertainty


brussels bureau

EU casts doubt on British growth prospects amid Brexit uncertainty

An official EU forecast published on Monday said that Britain’s economic growth will slow over the next two years amid uncertainty that surrounds the country’s future relationship with the EU.

Prime Minister Theresa May is widely expected to trigger Article 50, the piece of EU law that provides for quitting the EU, at a summit of European leaders in Brussels next month.

The European Commission, which releases forecasts every quarter, said the UK’s economy will grow by just 1.5 percent this year and 1.2 percent in 2018, down from a 2014 high of 3.1 percent.

The whole bloc will grow from 1.6 percent in 2014 to 1.8 percent this year and next.

“The European economy has proven resilient to the numerous shocks it has experienced over the past year,” said EU financial czar Pierre Moscovici. “Growth is holding up and unemployment and deficits are heading lower.”

The Commission also pointed to the uncertainties surrounding future US policies now that President Donald Trump is in office.

Greece may require more funds from the IMF, but Trump has long been a critic of the EU’s handling of those bailouts and has openly questioned the future of the single currency.

But there is political risk closer to home as well, mainly due to elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands.

“With uncertainty at such high levels, it’s more important than ever that we use all policy tools to support growth,” said Moscovici.

Marine Le Pen and her Front have their eyes on entering the second round of the French presidential elections, worrying officials in Brussels that a Le Pen victory would be devastating for the economy and the EU.