BRUSSELS (AP) - The European Union's economic forecast predicts that the 19-nation eurozone economy is likely to grow slightly better than anticipated this year, a sign of welcome news as Greece's debt woes weigh on economic confidence.
BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union's economic forecast predicts that the 19-nation eurozone economy is likely to grow slightly better than anticipated this year, a sign of welcome news as Greece's debt woes weigh on economic confidence.
The EU's winter forecast released Thursday says that eurozone growth will rise to 1.3 percent in 2015, up from 1.1 percent predicted in November.
The growth rate in powerhouses France and Italy, both struggling with large deficits, is set to rise to 1.0 percent and 0.6 percent respectively.
The rosier outlook is due mainly to the drop in oil prices and a depreciating euro, but weak investment and high unemployment continue to undermine progress.
The EU's top economy official, Pierre Moscovici, welcomed the improved forecast but said "there is still much hard work to do to deliver the jobs that remain elusive for millions of Europeans."
Despite the good news, uncertainty about the economic outlook has increased, as geopolitical tensions, financial market volatility and poor follow up on structural reforms muddy the waters.
Any prolonged period of very low inflation or deflation would also be detrimental, said the European Commission, which supervises the finances of EU member countries.
Inflation, which dipped into negative territory in December, is likely to remain subdued this year due to low commodity prices, but could pick up mid-year and rise further in 2016. The forecast is for -0.1 percent in the eurozone in 2015 and 1.3 percent in 2016.
In the broader 28-nation EU, the forecast predicts that all member economies will grow for the first time in eight years, with 2015 set to see 1.7 percent growth rate.
Given the different energy mix in each country and their varied financial circumstances, the growth range is expected to remain broad, with a high of 3.5 percent predicted for Ireland and a low of 0.2 percent in Croatia.