On Wednesday, Eurostat released statistics showing that the eurozone economy has finally exited its 18-month recession, growing by o.3 percent in the second quarter of 2013. That sound you’re hearing is a collective sigh of relief from the European policymakers who have somehow managed to shepherd the continent through its agonizingly slow-moving crisis.
So does this — coupled with other recent good news, such as Greece’s surprising budget surplus — mean that the eurocrisis is finally receding? Not exactly. "There are still substantial obstacles to overcome: the growth figures remain low and the tentative signs of growth are still fragile," European Commission Vice President Olli Rehn cautioned today.
Here, in graphic form, is a guide to the considerable challenges still facing the European economy.
While the eurozone’s economic comeback is welcome news, it was largely driven by the growth of Germany and France, the bloc’s two largest economies. Looking at GDP growth across the continent in the second quarter of 2013, the weak spots jump out. Few European economies have broken the half-percent mark, and several are still struggling with negative growth:
And even if European economies are now, on the whole, growing, unemployment remains a huge problem for Europe. Just have a look at these dire figures:
When you zoom in on youth unemployment, the picture looks even bleaker:
Excessive debt-to-GDP ratios have long served as one of the chief villains in the eurocrisis. As a result, governments have embarked on aggressive austerity programs. But the size of that challenge remains enormous; five European economies are saddled with total debt loads that are larger than the size of their entire economy: