The Eurozone economy seems to have bounced back from a series of past misfortunes, registering a growth of 0.5% in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2016 and 1.7% for the full year, figures released on Tuesday by Eurostat show.
Faster growth in the 19-nation bloc came on a spike in consumer demand in France and Spain while Germany’s export-driven economy remained on a solid course, the European Union (EU) statistics agency revealed.
But the big news should be the fall in unemployment levels to its lowest level since mid-2009, with big drops recorded in Spain and Portugal, where the job market has been stagnant since the 2010 debt crisis.
Youth unemployment, however, was still very high at the end of last year at 20.9%, though this was lower than the 21.8% posted a year earlier, Eurostat said.
The only negative input of these figures is the sharp rise of the inflation rate in the bloc, which spiked to 1.8% in January, a big leap from 1.1% a month earlier. This leaves it just shy of the European Central Bank (ECB)’s medium-term target of close to 2%. It was the highest rate since February 2013 and came after data in the past two days showed rising prices in Germany, France and Spain.
But despite these promising statistics, EU authorities remain cautious, bearing in mind that the global economy remains volatile and markets continue to be unpredictable.
Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici cautioned that the new economic data still fell short of a full recovery. “The recovery is solid for the fifth year running… but it is still too weak to create all the jobs we need,” he said.
The performance of Eurozone economy – and the European Union as a whole – is being followed closely in Africa, which is a valuable continent of the 28-nation bloc.
Africa is a major supplier of mineral-fuel imports to the EU. In 2014. Total energy product imports (mainly crude oil) from Africa to the EU amounted to 91.5 billion euros, according to Eurostat figures.
(DW/dpa/Reuters/AFP, additional reporting and final editing by Issa Sikiti)
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