The crisis (maybe) is being overcome

According to the Commission's "Forecasts" the time of recovery is drawing close. But uncertainties and unemployment linger on

While in Brussels the EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici, announced "a gradual recovery in Europe" on February 5, and the expectation of a modest performance also for Greece, in Athens the stock market was plummeting and savers stormed ATMs in the hope of securing their savings. The ECB’s decision to stop money transfers to Greek banks is holding stage in EU seats (also ahead of the visit of the Eurogroup and of next week’s European Coucil), even more than the winter Forecasts. In fact, the latter announced: "For the first time since 2007,the economies of all European Union Member States are expected to grow again this year." Moderate speed. In the course of 2015 "economic activity is expected to pick up moderately" in the EU28 and in the euro area (19 States), "before accelerating further in 2016." Growth this year "is forecast to rise to 1.7% for the EU as a whole and to 1.3% for the euro area." In 2016, annual growth should reach 2.1% and 1.9% respectively, "on the back of strengthened domestic and foreign demand, very accommodative monetary policy and a broadly neutral fiscal stance." However, growth prospects in Europe "are still limited by a weak investment environment and high unemployment." On the positive side, the Commission registers a decline in oil prices, the fact that "the euro has depreciated noticeably" (favouring exports), the ECB announcement of quantitative easing along with the Commission’s Investment Plan for Europe. Brighter outlook. "Europe’s economic outlook is a little brighter today", said Moscovici during the presentation of the Executive’s document: "there are positive signs." It is expected that in the period 2015-2016 "the consequences of the crisis will decrease." For the French policymaker Europe financial recovery "is a consequence of reform efforts" undertaken by Member States to counter national deficits and debts" and to promote investment. Moscovici highlighted ongoing problems starting with the fall in prices (deflation). Positive trends have been registered in a set of EU Countries: la Germany is solid, France and Italy are recovering, the UK and Poland are good, OK for Scandinavian and Baltic countries as well as for Romania and Slovakia, Spain and Ireland are getting back on their feet. "For Greece, our forecast of 2.5% growth is based on an assumption of continued commitment to reforms", the Commissioner pointed out. Moreover, each Country has its own specificity: some draw benefits from exports and from the solidity of the banking systems that favours investment, others from the low costs of labour, other still from higher productivity. Many uncertainties. Valdis Dombrovskis Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, remarked: "Today Europe stands at a critical juncture. The right economic conditions are in place for sustained growth and job creation. The effects of reforms are emerging. We have to step up the reform momentum to strengthen the recovery and make sure it translates into money in people’s pockets." "The Commission", he added, "is delivering on its commitments on three main fronts: investment, structural reforms and fiscal responsibility. Implementation now lies with the Member States. And that is where our results will be judged." However, the same Forecasts show that "uncertainty surrounding the existing economic outlook has increased", "This is due to geopolitical tensions, renewed financial market volatility in a context of diverging monetary-policy across major economies, and incomplete implementation of structural reforms. A protracted period of very low or negative inflation would also be detrimental to the growth outlook." Stagnating jobs. There remains the unsolved knot of employment. "As economic growth gains momentum, so will net job creation", underlines the Commission. Labour markets "should improve", but the process will take at leas two years. Moreover, "economic growth is expected to be insufficient for a marked improvement. The unemployment rate is set to fall to 9.8% in the EU and 11.2% in the euro area in 2015." Employment is already registering positive trends in Germany, Austria, The Netherlands, The United Kingdom, Hungary, while the job market remains stagnating in several countries including Greece, Spain, Croatia, Cyprus, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia.

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