Europe has rea­son to feel cheer­ful but it must op­pose pro­tec­tion­ism

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - VIEWS - The au­thor is deputy chief of China Daily Euro­pean Bureau. fu­jing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

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