Europe’s Economic Laggards Have Become Its Leaders – Generic English

Europe’s Economic Laggards Have Become Its Leaders – Generic English
Associated media – Associated media

That was clear on Tuesday, when new data showed that economic output of the euro currency bloc grew 0.3 percent in the first quarter this year from the previous quarter, according to the European Union’s statistics agency, Eurostat. The eurozone economy shrank by 0.1 percent in both the third and fourth quarters of last year, a technical recession.

Germany, which accounts for one-quarter of the bloc’s economy, barely avoided a recession in the first quarter of 2024, growing 0.2 percent. Spain and Portugal expanded more than three times that pace, showing that Europe’s economy continues to grow at two speeds.

After years of international bailouts and harsh austerity programs, southern European countries made crucial changes that have attracted investors, revived growth and exports and reversed record-high unemployment.

Governments cut red tape and corporate taxes to stimulate business and pushed through changes to their once-rigid labor markets, including making it easier for employers to hire and fire workers and reducing the widespread use of temporary contracts. They moved to reduce sky-high debts and deficits, luring international pension and investment funds to start buying their sovereign debt again.

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