Fabian Demicoli

Winter forecast 2013: EU economy gradually overcoming headwinds


Economic activity was disappointing
in the second half of 2012, but leading indicators suggest that GDP in the EU
is now bottoming out, and economic activity is expected to gradually
accelerate. According to the EU winter forecast issued on 22 February, the
pick-up in growth will initially be driven by increasing external demand, with
domestic investment and consumption projected to recover later in the year and
become the main drivers of GDP growth by 2014.

The forecast projects low annual
GDP growth of 0.1% for 2013 in the EU and a contraction of -0.3% in the euro
area. Unemployment rates are expected to increase further this year to 11% in
the EU and 12% in the euro area. The sizeable fiscal measures that Member
States are implementing should lead to another reduction of headline fiscal
deficits to 3.4% in the EU and 2.8% in the euro area in 2013, thereby helping
to contain the rise in debt-to-GDP levels. De-leveraging continues to weigh on
short-term growth, but as this process advances it will strengthen the basis
for growth in 2014, which is projected at 1.6% in the EU and 1.4% in the euro
area.

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