In 2017, the euro zone achieved a level of growth close to that which it experienced 10 years ago, before the financial crisis, confirming the strength of the recovery in Europe.
Gross domestic product (GDP) growth last year rose to 2.5% in the 19 countries that adopted the single currency, up 1.8% from 2016, announced Eurostat in a first estimate published Tuesday. This figure is the best in the eurozone since 2007, when growth had risen to 3.0%.
“The growth of the euro zone has been faster than that of the United States (2.3% in 2017) and is now almost one percentage point higher than that of the United Kingdom (1.8%). %), “says Jasper Lawler, an analyst at London Capital Group.
“The momentum of the European economy largely explains the bullish attitudes towards the euro and European stocks,” he adds.
Eurostat’s estimate for 2017 is higher than that of the European Commission, which forecast 2.2% in November, and that of the European Central Bank (ECB), which had anticipated 2.4% in December.
“The economy of the euro zone continues to run at full speed,” says Bert Colijn, economist at the Dutch bank ING. “Investments has not yet fully recovered from the crisis but has been a key contributor to growth during the year,” he adds.
Economic confidence in the euro area remained in January at its highest level in 17 years (114.7 points), despite a slight drop of 0.6 points compared to December, according to the estimate released Tuesday by the European Commission.
Similarly, the unemployment rate — whose figure for December will be revealed Wednesday — has continued to decline for several months and stood in November at 8.7%.
If Eurostat did not publish details of growth by country, the figures coming from France (1.9%, the highest since 2011), Germany (2.2%) or Spain (3.1%) suggest that growth is widespread in the euro area.
In detail, growth in the euro area reached 0.6% in the fourth quarter, said Eurostat, a level consistent with the estimate of analysts interviewed by the financial services provider Factset.
In the European Union as a whole, growth also increased by 2.5% in 2017 and by 0.6% in the fourth quarter. In 2016, growth in the EU was 1.9%. For 2018, the European Commission has forecast 2.1% in its autumn forecast.
“The big question for 2018 is whether the stronger euro will neutralize the effects of improving external demand,” notes Bert Colijn.