Economic confidence across the eurozone has hit its strongest level in more than 17 years, according to official figures that suggest both consumers and businesses are benefiting from the region’s healthy recent performance.
Inflation in the eurozone slipped further away from the European Central Bank’s target in December, highlighting the challenge facing the bank as it looks to maintain price rises while winding down its quantitative easing program this year.
Growth in lending to eurozone businesses and households picked up in November, official data showed, in an encouraging sign for European Central Bank chiefs as they begin withdrawing support for the economy.
With the eurozone economy on a tear, European leaders have voiced renewed ambition for reforms to reinforce the foundations of monetary union. The rationale is clear: to give the eurozone’s governance more legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens; and to make the bloc better equipped to withstand adversity next time a crisis hits. But there is no consensus on what reforms should look like. All attempts to articulate a plan run up against fundamental political differences that have dogged the single currency since its inception.
Convergence between the eurozone’s richer and poorer economies appears to be resuming, but income gaps remain huge and the euro has not been a catalyst for reducing inequality, a study published by the European Central Bank (ECB) showed.
Factories across the eurozone are having their best year since the start of the century, according to a closely-watched series of surveys, with Italy a particular highlight as businesses reported much better than expected conditions in October.
The European Stability Mechanism (ESM) could get new powers to monitor eurozone economies next year as part of the single currency bloc's plan to integrate more deeply, Klaus Regling, the head of the eurozone bailout fund, said.