The European economy is expected to grow for the seventh year in a row in 2019, with expansion forecast in every Member State
The European Commission published today its Winter 2019 Economic Forecast. It covers the years 2018, 2019 and 2020 and includes data on gross domestic product (GDP) growth and inflation for all 28 EU Member States.
According to the Commission's forecasts, economic activity moderated in the second half of last year as global trade growth slowed, uncertainty sapped confidence and output in some Member States was adversely affected by temporary domestic factors, such as disruptions in car production, social tensions and fiscal policy uncertainty. As a result, gross domestic product (GDP) growth in both the euro area and the EU likely slipped to 1.9% in 2018, down from 2.4% in 2017 (Autumn Forecast: 2.1% for EU28 and euro area).
Economic momentum at the start of this year was subdued, but the fundamentals remain sound. Economic growth will continue, albeit more moderately. The European economy is set to continue to benefit from improving labour market conditions, favourable financing conditions and a slightly expansionary fiscal stance. Euro area GDP is now forecast to grow by 1.3% in 2019 and 1.6% in 2020 (Autumn Forecast: 1.9% in 2019; 1.7% in 2020). The EU GDP growth forecast has also been revised down to 1.5% in 2019 and 1.7% in 2020 (Autumn Forecast: 1.9% in 2019; 1.8% in 2020).
According to the Commission's forecasts, Consumer price inflation in the euro area fell towards the end of 2018 due to a sharp drop in energy prices and lower food price inflation. Core inflation, which excludes energy and unprocessed food prices, was muted throughout the year, despite faster wage growth. Overall inflation (HICP) averaged 1.7% in 2018, up from 1.5% in 2017. With oil price assumptions for this year and next year now lower than in autumn, euro area inflation is forecast to moderate to 1.4% in 2019 before picking up mildly to 1.5% in 2020. For the EU, inflation is forecast to average 1.6% this year and then pick up to 1.8% in 2020.
A high level of uncertainty surrounds the economic outlook and the projections are subject to downside risks. Trade tensions, which have been weighing on sentiment for some time, have alleviated somewhat but remain a concern. China's economy may be slowing more sharply than anticipated and global financial markets and many emerging markets are vulnerable to abrupt changes in risk sentiment and growth expectations. For the EU, the “Brexit” process remains a source of uncertainty.
Full document: Winter 2019 Economic Forecast
Previous Forecast (full document): Autumn 2018 Economic Forecast
7 February 2019