This week’s map takes a look at Europe using two economic metrics: unemployment and GDP growth. One of the first things to note is that besides Estonia, the only countries in Europe that are growing at a rate of over 1 percent are either in the Balkans or right next door (Romania). Most of Western, Central and northern Europe is growing at under 1 percent and a few countries even experienced first quarter contraction: Ireland, Hungary and Poland, among others.
The second thing to note is that while the Balkans have decent growth rates, unemployment is very high, as it is throughout southern Europe, from Spain to Greece. Italy’s unemployment figure is somewhat misleading as there is a huge north-south divide. In southern Italy, unemployment is closer to the rate seen in Balkan countries than Italy’s average.
There is a huge discrepancy between the status of various economies even within the eurozone. This is one of the fundamental challenges that has dogged the EU relentlessly since the 2008 financial crisis. Policies that may be good for certain European countries, such as Germany (which has low growth and low unemployment), cannot possibly help a country like Spain (which has growth marginally higher than Germany but an employment rate five times higher).
We often discuss Europe’s overall stagnant economy, and how this poses a challenge particularly for export-dependent countries like Germany. This map does a good job of identifying some of Europe’s key problems going forward. These problems don’t have easy fixes and will continue to shape geopolitics for the rest of the year and beyond.