The European economy, beset by high unemployment and austerity measures aimed at reducing debts and deficits, will contract again in 2013, according to the continent’s official economic body. That would make 2013 the second consecutive year, and third in the past five, in which the 17-nation Eurozone’s economy will have shrunk, adding to its already record-high unemployment rate and further complicating the deficit reduction efforts it has pursued without fail since the end of the global recession.
Another contraction would especially hit the countries that have already been hurt the most by the recession and resulting austerity, the European Commission said. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, forecasts a 0.3% contraction for 2013 and sees falling spending by businesses, consumers and national governments pushing euro-zone unemployment to a new high. Mass joblessness is expected to increase in the countries hardest hit by the crisis, with the average unemployment rate expected to reach 27% in Greece, 26.9% in Spain and 17.3% in Portugal.
Slow growth, and in some cases the lack of growth at all, has already hampered deficit reduction efforts, causing Spain, Greece, and France to miss deficit targets. French president Francois Hollande announced this week that he would not pursue further austerity to hit this year’s deficit target. The Eurozone officially fell back into recession in November.