How to describe every European economy, in 10 words or less

Each tells its own story.
Each tells its own story.
Image: Reuters/Francois Lenoir
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The European Commission’s latest economic forecast, published today, paints a mildly optimistic picture, with growth on the continent steadily improving, unemployment gradually easing, and inflation remaining low but never tipping over into deflation.

The full 184-page document (pdf) is packed with details, but you don’t need to read the entire thing to get a feel for how each EU economy is performing. Each country gets its own chapter in the forecast, and the economists—or their subeditors—give each a pithy title, summarizing its contents in just a few words. This serves as a quick, almost haiku-like assessment of every EU economy. You can also get a feel for shifts in sentiment by tracking how these headings evolve from one forecast to the next.

Of course, you lose a lot of nuance if this is all you read, but you also save a lot of time. And sometimes you only need to know the basics to hold your own in casual conversation—the next time Poland comes up at a cocktail party, for instance, you can note, sagely, that it is finally “regaining economic momentum,” which is a relief since only a year ago it was “flying on one engine.” (If someone asks what you mean by that, pretend that you just received an important text message and politely excuse yourself.)

Below are the country chapter headings from the latest forecast and the one published in February last year. Consider it your cheat sheet on the European economy.

2013: Embarking on a moderate upturn
2014: Timid recovery expected to gain traction

2013: Sluggish growth and ongoing fiscal consolidation
2014: Growth expectations up, inflation down

2013: Slow recovery ahead 
2014: Economic growth resuming, but labour market still weak

2013: Staying in the economic doldrums
2014: Muted growth prospects amid a high fiscal deficit and rising debt

2013: Prolonged recession and deleveraging ahead
2014: Recession bottoms out while adjustments are underway 

2013: Anemic consumption and a fragile labor market 
2014: Economic activity to strengthen in 2014 

2013: Gradually gaining traction
2014: Moving out of stagnation 

2013: Growing strongly, in tune with the other Baltic States 
2014: GDP growth regaining momentum with recovering exports

2013: Domestic demand remains main growth driver 
2014: Nascent recovery with consolidation needs ahead 

2013: Postponed recovery weighs on public finance 
2014: Recovery remains slow amid sizeable budget deficits 

2013: Gradual recovery following a temporary setback 
2014: Accelerated growth in the offing 

2013: Conditions set for emerging from turbulence 
2014: First signs of recovery 

2013: Slow economic recovery weighs on public finances 
2014: A mild recovery, sustained by domestic demand 

2013: Easing financing conditions and a modest growth recovery 
2014: Adjustment supported by stronger economic growth 

2013: Economic recession bottoming out in mid-2013 
2014: A slow recovery is underway 

2013: Strong growth amid low inflation and robust public finances 
2014: Economic growth and job creation continue at a sound pace

2013: Steady growth ahead
2014: Solid growth continues in a context of macroeconomic stability

2013: Less manufactures made in Luxembourg 
2014: Robust growth above the euro-area average 

2013: Growth gradually gaining pace 
2014: Private consumption to drive growth 

2013: Housing market adjustments impose a drag on economic activity 
2014: Economic recovery takes shape after two years of recession

2013: Flying on one engine 
2014: Regaining economic momentum

2013: Negative growth surprise could signal delayed recovery 
2014: Gradual economic recovery 

2013: Domestic demand drives modest recovery 
2014: Export-led rebound turning into a more broad-based recovery

2013: Growth temporarily weakens as external boost tails off 
2014: Growth to pick up in 2014 

2013: Double-dip and on-going adjustment delay consolidation 
2014: Easing market tensions but deleveraging still ongoing 

2013: Net exports only source of growth over forecast horizon 
2014: The recovery becomes firmer while the rebalancing of the economy continues

2013: From lackluster growth towards a gradual recovery
2014: Rebounding from a soft patch 

2013: Green shoots on the horizon 
2014: Recovery takes hold, fiscal imbalances still sizeable