This series of reports is prepared on a monthly basis by DG Enterprise and Industry. It aims at describing the impact of the economic crisis on manufacturing and construction industries.
The EU economy seems at last to be emerging from the recession with GDP in the third quarter rising by 0.3% on the previous quarter after five consecutive quarters of contraction. Most member States showed a clear rebound in GDP with only Spain and Greece still in negative territory. Among the largest Member States, the strongest growth was seen in Germany (0.7%) and Italy (0.6%). Increasing new orders and growing confidence point to an improving outlook for the EU industry, although the manufacturing output is still experiencing a phase of stabilisation rather than sound recovery. Manufacturing output still remains almost 20% below its peak level of early 2008.
The situation varies considerably between sectors and across Member States. A number of factors still suggest that a cautious approach is warranted to the prospects for economic recovery. These include a continuing decline of output in construction, the fact that both output levels and confidence indicators are still at low levels in absolute terms and the likelihood of a further deterioration in labour markets reflecting the typically delayed reaction of employment to output reductions and the expected phasing out of short-time working schemes. All in all, these figures confirm that so far the fall in GDP has been constituted first and foremost by the output fall in industry and construction.
Looking to the future, there is a continuous risk that restricted availability of finance on favourable terms to firms could slow down an economic recovery. SMEs in particular appear to suffer from continued difficult access to short term finance, including export credits and trade finance that have declined considerably.