New economic forecast for Europe is grim

May 3, 2013 at 1:15 PM

BRUSSELS, May 3 (UPI) -- The European Commission, downgrading predictions made in February, said Friday the economy in Europe would shrink through 2013.

The commission had projected slight economic growth in the 27-member European Union and a 0.3 percent contraction in the 17-member eurozone, but those figures were changed to a contraction of 0.1 in the EU and a drop of O.4 in the eurozone.

The New York Times reported the commission expects unemployment to reach 11.1 percent in the EU and remain at 12.2 percent in the eurozone.

If the projections hold true, it would mean an extended recession.

National governments should "do whatever it takes to overcome the unemployment crisis in Europe," Olli Rehn, commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, said in a statement.

"Fiscal consolidation is continuing but its pace is slowing down. In parallel, structural reforms must be intensified to unlock growth in Europe," he said

Rehn's support of austerity budgeting has been broadly unpopular in Europe. The lack of stimulus spending has frequently been criticized as holding back economic growth.

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