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A woman holds up a EU flag during the speech of German Chancellor Angela Merkel at an election rally in Berlin.
Reuters/Tobias Schwarz
Flying the flag.
CHEAT SHEET

How to sound smart if someone asks you about the European economy

Jason Karaian
By Jason Karaian

Global finance and economics editor

The European Commission sees the proverbial “green shoots” of recovery in the EU economy. This isn’t just our interpretation—the commission put a photo of actual green shoots on the cover of its latest batch of economic forecasts.

European Commission
Green shoots.

These reports usually run 200 pages or so. But as we’ve noted before, it’s easy to get a gist for what they say, thanks to the pithy titles the commission gives to each report and each chapter in it. (Every EU member gets its own chapter.)

These blurbs alone are enough for you to sound semi-informed if, say, the Slovenian economy comes up in conversation at your next dinner party, as is so often the case. (“Strong growth set to decelerate but become more broad-based,” you will say, to approving nods from your guests.)

The commission’s latest report is titled “Tailwinds support the recovery.” The sentiment is a bit more bullish than in previous editions—and a noteworthy change from the “headwinds” mentioned in the title of the Winter 2013 report.

Let’s quickly recap the progression of developments in Europe’s economy, based on the dates and titles of the commission’s reports since 2013:

  • Winter 2013: Gradually overcoming headwinds
  • Spring 2013: Adjustment continues
  • Autumn 2013: Gradual recovery, external risks
  • Winter 2014: Recovery gaining ground
  • Spring 2014: Growth becoming broader-based
  • Autumn 2014: Slow recovery with very low inflation
  • Winter 2015: Outlook improved but risks remain
  • Spring 2015: Tailwinds support the recovery

As far as specific countries go, here is your cheat sheet for every EU member’s economy, taken from the chapter titles in the commission’s latest report:

  • Austria: Lingering uncertainty hampers a stronger rebound
  • Belgium: Subdued domestic demand prevents clear acceleration
  • Bulgaria: Weak investment limits growth
  • Croatia: External factors nudge the economy into a subdued recovery
  • Czech Republic: Domestic demand drives the rebound
  • Cyprus: Progress on structural reforms promises new steam to a delayed economic recovery
  • Denmark: Recovery is expected to strengthen
  • Estonia: Growth despite external constraints
  • Finland: Recovery fails to accelerate despite improving external environment
  • France: Tailwinds pushing up domestic demand
  • Germany: Temporary boost in activity followed by steady expansion
  • Greece: The recovery fails to accelerate amid high political uncertainty
  • Hungary: Deceleration in growth, a switch from investment to consumption
  • Ireland: A revival of domestic demand supports solid growth
  • Italy: A gradual recovery ahead
  • Latvia: Growth momentum sustained by domestic demand
  • Lithuania: Domestic demand keeps the economy on course
  • Luxembourg: Growth heading towards pre-crisis levels
  • Malta: Economic performance remains robust
  • Netherlands: Economic recovery finally gains ground
  • Poland: Sustained economic growth supported by strong domestic demand
  • Portugal: The economic recovery consolidates further
  • Romania: Domestic demand fuels robust growth, fiscal consolidation reversed
  • Slovakia: Recovery strengthens fuelled by steady domestic demand
  • Slovenia: Strong growth set to decelerate but become more broad-based
  • Spain: Growth rising on the back of robust employment growth
  • Sweden: Strong investment and brightening outlook for exports
  • United Kingdom: Domestic demand continues to support strong growth
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