A sluggish Europe is hurting world growth

Berlaymont, European Commission's Headquarter in Brussels

The Eurozone economy expanded by 0.2 percent in the third quarter, official data showed Friday, a slight acceleration that will do little to quell fears that a sluggish Europe is hurting world growth, Agence France-Press reported.

The EU’s official Eurostat agency said the 18-nation Eurozone’s output rose 0.2 percent in the July-September period, and revised the second quarter figure higher to 0.1 percent from an earlier estimate that showed the bloc had stagnated.

Last 4 November the research body of the 28-nation bloc revealed in a news release that 122.6 million people, or 24.5 percent of the EU population, last year faced at least one out of three risk conditions: having an income below the risk-of-poverty threshold, being severely materially deprived, and living in a household with very low work intensity.

Nearly 17 percent of the EU population was at risk of poverty after social transfers, meaning their disposable income was below their national at-risk-of-poverty threshold, according to Eurostat. Up to 10 percent of the population in the 28-nation bloc had not been able to afford to pay their bills, keep their home adequately warm, or take a one-week holiday away from home. Around 11 percent of the EU population lived in households where the adults worked less than 20 percent of their total work potential during the past year, a problem which has been constantly rising in the EU since 2008, it said.

Countries with the highest poverty figures in the EU were Bulgaria (48 percent), Romania (40.4 percent), Greece (35.7 percent), Latvia (35.1 percent) and Hungary (33.5 percent). Countries with the lowest poverty figures were the Czech Republic (14.6 percent), the Netherlands (15.9 percent), Finland (16 percent) and Sweden (16.4 percent). The 2013 poverty figures showed a slight decrease on 2012, but were higher than those from 2008, according to Eurostat.

It’s increasingly clear that the European Union needs a change of course, a quick pass from the fiscal compact to the growth compact. A new deal focused on the bioeconomy to create new jobs and return to growth in an environmentally friendly way. From this point of view the US with their program Biopreferred, with the leading role of public institutions in supporting innovation and biobased markets, offer the European Commission a model to follow. Will be able to figure it out the new President of the EU Commission, Mr Juncker?

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