Europe has reason to feel cheerful but it must oppose protectionism
When describing the condition of the European Union, many are inclined to recite a long list of crises facing Europeans. Apart from the fallout from the Brexit vote, mass migrations of displaced people, terrorism, changes in leadership and other events, they usually claim Europe is still in economic recession. This is an old story, however. Going by the many economic figures and predictions, Europeans have reason to enjoy Christmas and the New Year. Put simply, after years of hard efforts to save some countries from bankruptcy, building up its own financial firewall, introducing tighter fiscal and banking regulations and injecting stimulus projects, the EU has left such crises behind.
The latest Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development outlook on the eurozone, which consists of 19 countries, says the economy would grow at an average annual rate of 1.6 percent in the 2016-18 period. The OECD, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have all predicted that all the European countries are expected to experience growth, instead of decline, in 2016. And this trend is set to continue.
Even the Greek economy, the original victim of the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone, has rebounded and is expected to gain some strength in 2017-18 due to structural reforms and China-led foreign investments.
All this has happened against the background of the eurozone’s annual average growth rate of a mere 0.8 percent from 2004 to 2013, with 2009 being the worst year when all the EU economies shrank, except Poland, which registered a growth of 1.7 percent.