The European Union is facing its biggest crisis since… well, since its last big crisis. The perpetually problematic union is threatening to come undone, with Britain in the process of quitting the bloc and numerous populist movements elsewhere also threatening to sever ties.
But economically speaking, the bloc is performing better than it has in a long while. For the first time since 2007, all 28 of the union’s member economies are growing at the same time, on an annual basis.
Inflation-adjusted GDP in the EU will rise 1.8% this year and next, according to the European Commission’s latest projections. This is expected to push unemployment across the region to its lowest rate since 2009. For its part, GDP in the euro zone has risen for 15 consecutive quarters.
This is not to say that Europe’s economy is thriving, which is readily apparent by how successfully populist politicians have been blaming Brussels for their countries’ apparent financial malaise.
The European Commission warns that the risks to its forecasts are “exceptionally large,” thanks to the unclear intentions of US president Donald Trump, high-stakes elections across Europe this year, and the ongoing Brexit negotiations. If Trump follows through on pledges to spend big on infrastructure, it could provide a boost to the EU’s export-oriented members. But if he doubles down on his “America First” policy, it could harm transatlantic trade. Meanwhile, a messy Brexit, tighter monetary policy from the US Federal Reserve, and a shaky Chinese economy could all derail the European economy’s slow but steady recovery.
Pierre Moscovici, the European commissioner for economic and financial affairs, warned that the benefits of growth must be shared more widely—both between and within EU countries—for it to be appreciated by citizens. “With uncertainty at such high levels, it’s more important than ever that we use all policy tools to support growth,” he said. “Above all, we must ensure that its benefits are felt in all parts of the euro area and all segments of society.”