According to first calculations published by Eurostat last week, the economies of the eurozone and the European Union as a whole both grew by 0.4 percent in the first quarter of 2015 compared with the previous quarter. Statistics Netherlands published Dutch economic growth last week, also showing a 0.4 percent growth. Compared with the same quarter in the previous year, the Dutch economy grew by 2.4 percent. The economies of the eurozone and the European Union grew by 1.0 and 1.4 percent respectively in the same period.
Growth in most European countries
The economies in most countries in Europe grew in the first quarter of 2015. Spain, in particular is experiencing a strong recovery. Quarter-on-quarter economic growth in Spain was 0.9 percent. The French economy also grew substantially, by 0.6 percent, following zero growth in the previous quarter. Growth in neighbouring countries was similar to that in the Netherlands: Belgium and Germany both noted a 0.3 percent increase. The economies of Estonia, Lithuania, Finland and Greece showed negative growth in the first quarter. For the two Baltic States this downturn came after a period of strong growth. Finland - and especially Greece - have been ailing for some time now, but the contraction was modest in the first quarter: -0.1 percent for Finalnd and -0.2 percent for Greece.
European Union back at pre-crisis level
As a result of first-quarter growth, the European Union as a whole rose above the level at the start of 2008 when the credit crisis started. The economy of the eurozone is still 1.5 percent below its pre-crisis level. The German economy was 4 percent above the level of early 2008, but in many other euro-countries the economies were still below this level. The southern euro-countries in particular are still far from pre-crisis levels. The Spanish economy is 5 percent smaller, the Italian economy nearly 10 percent smaller and the Greeks are still 25 percent below early 2008.
The Dutch economy is still just over 1 percent below the level of the start of 2008. This puts it behind Belgium and France, where the economies are 3 percent and 2 percent respectively above the pre-crisis levels.
Downturn outside Europe
While Europe was still ailing, the economy of the United States has grown substantially in recent years. The American economy is now almost 10 percent above the level of the beginning of 2008, although growth is slowing down there. In the first quarter of 2015 it was onlyy 0.1 percent quarter-on-quarter. The British business cycle has been showing similarities with that in America in recent years. British growth, too, slowed in the first quarter, to 0.3 percent. The economy of the United Kingdom was 4 percent above the level of the beginning of 2008. In non-western economies growth has been slowing down for a longer period. China had the weakest economic growth for 24 years in 2014, and the Russian economy showed a negative growth of -2 percent in the first quarter.
For the purpose of international comparability, all data used for this article have been adjusted for working-day and seasonal patterns.