European Commissioner Pierre Moscovici addresses an optimistic Autumn European Economic Forecast in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday. Photo courtesy European Union
Nov. 9 (UPI) -- The European Commission announced on Thursday it will surpass economic growth expectations for this year, and predicted robust growth in 2018.
The bloc's Autumn European Economic Forecast said the countries using the euro currency, the eurozone, is on track to annual GDP growth of 2.2 percent -- higher than the 1.7 percent announced in the spring.
The pace is the quickest in a decade, and the European Commission said it anticipates continued growth of 2.1 percent next year and nearly 2 percent in 2019. The slight decline in the 2019 forecast accompanies Britain's scheduled exit from the European Union.
The optimism, the commission said, is fueled by increased private consumption, favorable lending conditions, improved economic growth around the world and falling unemployment in Europe.
Political anxiety has also decreased across Europe -- as Germany, France and the Netherlands re-elected centrist, pro-EU governments this year. Also, the European Central Bank has maintained a relatively loose monetary policy and member nations have reduced deficits faster than expected.
"After five years of moderate recovery, European growth has now accelerated," said Pierre Moscovici, commissioner for economic and financial affairs, taxation and customs. "We see good news on many fronts, with more jobs being created, rising investment and strengthening public finances."
The forecast said the EU still faces wage and labor challenges, however, as well as Britain's exit and U.S. protectionist trade policies. Inflation is also expected to remain flat through 2017, 2018 and 2019.