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Country Forecast Europe March 2018

Country Forecast Europe March 2018

  • March 2018
  • ID: 5370283
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit


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Political stability

  • Popular disaffection with mainstream parties will persist in the forecast period. Anti-establishment parties performed well in Italy's general election in March, but political fragmentation means the process of forming a government will be protracted. The next government is likely to be unstable and short-lived.
  • A government was formed in Germany in March, six months after the election. The Economist Intelligence Unit expects political instability in the coming years, with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) trying to distinguish itself from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) having entered the Bundestag (the lower house of parliament).
  • We expect the UK and the EU to negotiate a framework deal on the future trading relationship by the time the UK leaves the EU in March 2019. The risk that negotiations will break down is significant.
  • Vladimir Putin was re-elected as president for a fourth term in March. We expect a greater focus on domestic policy, but even modest liberalising reforms are unlikely. Russia will continue to pursue a muscular foreign policy. We expect EU sanctions on Russia to be maintained and for relations to remain difficult.

Economic policy

  • We do not expect the EU to undertake the sort of ambitious reforms advocated by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, which will meet resistance from some member states, including from Germany, which is wary of EU-level stabilisation instruments that mean an increase in risk sharing.
  • Tensions arising from negotiations over the EU's seven-year budget framework for 2021-27 will play into the debate on EU reform, hampering progress in this area. Agreement on the budget framework is unlikely until the second half of 2019, after the European Parliament elections in May 2019.
  • We expect the European Central Bank (ECB) to take a first step towards normalising its main refinancing rate in early 2020, before embarking on a gradual tightening cycle that would bring the interest rate to 1.5% by end-2022.

Economic growth

  • We forecast average real GDP growth in the EU28 of 1.9% in 2018-22, following estimated growth of 2.5% in 2017.
  • We expect a real GDP growth slowdown in the UK in 2018-19, to 1.5% per year, owing to Brexit uncertainty. It will pick up in 2019-22.

Business environment rankings

  • The business environment has improved in most European countries as the post-crisis economic recovery has gathered pace. However, fragilities remain.

Euro area: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain

Old EU15: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, UK

New EU13: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia

EU28: EU15 plus EU13

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