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Preview | WEEK OF SEPT. 16-22

Report: EU Economy Lags Behind U.S.'

September 16, 2002|Reuters

The European Union's economy continues to lag behind the United States', and the average EU country's economy is worse in most respects than the U.S., the World Economic Forum will report today.

"There is no beating around the bush--Europe continues to under-perform, intra-regional differences notwithstanding," said Anne Mettler, director for Europe at the forum, which is hosting its seventh annual European Economic Summit in Salzburg, Austria, this week.

"Over the last decade, annual economic growth averaged around 2.5%, almost one percentage point less than in the U.S. This year, the consensus forecasts EU output to expand by a mere 1.25%, considerably below what the U.S. economy is expected to achieve," she said.

The forum said the best-performing economy in the EU was Finland, which it said was consistently on a par with the U.S. in many areas. The report was prepared by the forum and the Centre for European Integration Studies.

The weakest-performing economies in the EU were Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece. Of the 10 EU accession candidates, the strongest performers were Estonia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia.

Mettler said that unemployment in the EU continued to be a problem. "Unemployment in the U.S. appears to be leveling off, while in the EU it continues to increase from an already significantly higher level," she said.

The full report will be released at the WEF summit of political and business leaders, which takes place today and Tuesday.

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