European Commission raises GDP growth forecasts



Private consumption and household investment, supported by both government-initiated and market-driven wage increases, as well as a strong recovery in bank lending and further fiscal loosening, is expected to lift growth in 2018; however, growth is set to slow in 2019 as capacity constraints emerge, it added.

The Commission also raised its growth forecast for next year to 2.1 percent from 1.8 percent.

As for Britain, which doesn't use the euro currency, the report said its growth for 2017 had fallen to 1.5 percent and would be even slower in 2018 at 1.3 percent, followed by 1.1 percent in 2019.

EU officials hope the dynamic economy will help ambitious reform drives by European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and French President Emmanuel Macron to deepen economic integretaion in the eurozone. Tax cuts, in particular a cut of the standard VAT rate by 1 percentage point have reduced tax revenues. Investment is expected to increase modestly, mainly due to the construction sector.

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The Commission noted in its report that while public and private consumption are projected to decelerate, public and private investment is "set to pick up sizeably". Moreover, structural convergence and the strengthening of the euro area are necessary to make it more resilient to future shocks and to turn it into a true motor of shared prosperity.

The European Commission forecasts are slightly more pessimistic than other forecasts for the United Kingdom, but given that so far this year, the United Kingdom grew by 0.3 percent in both the first and second quarters, and by 0.4 percent in the third quarter, they don't seem unduly downbeat.

"After five years of moderate recovery, European growth has now accelerated", EU Economy Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said on Thursday.

The outlook was positive for Spain despite the crisis over Catalonia, with its growth foreacast upgraded to a robust 3.1 percent for this year, leading the eurozone's major economies. The EC publishes such forecasts three times a year. By the end of 2017, growth will likely be around 1.4%-1.5%.

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"Based on a no-policy-change assumption, the surplus of the general government balance is projected to slightly improve in 2019".

"Buoyant revenue growth underpinned by strong underlying economic growth will be outpaced by growth in government expenditure, especially still-high spending for infrastructure investment", it said.

The commission stressed that its analysis of Britain's prospects was based on a "purely technical assumption of status quo" in terms of the UK's relations with the European Union, and did not take into account any possible outcome from negotiations on a future trade deal.

Despite this growth, the Commission states in its report that the Croatian GDP would return to the level before the crisis in two years.

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