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These could be Europe's fastest-growing economies in 2019

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
La Valetta, Malta. Photo: Andia/UIG via Getty Images

The European Commission has revealed its latest growth forecasts for member states in 2019, with several smaller countries in the top half of the table.

Malta is on track to record the highest growth in Europe, with an impressive 5.5% increase in real GDP predicted this year.

Poland is in second place with 4.2% growth forecast, followed by Ireland and Slovakia (both 3.8%), Hungary (3.7%), Romania and Bulgaria (both 3.3%) and Cyprus, Slovenia and Latvia (all 3.1%).

The commission’s latest forecast said rising employment and low inflation in Malta had driven consumer spending to record highs. But even the 2019 forecast for the archipelago in the Mediterranean, which has a population of around half a million, will fall short of last year’s 6.6% growth.

Every EU member state including Britain is expected to see real GDP growth overall, with a bloc-wide average of 1.4%.

But some major economies are expected to lag behind the rest of the continent. Italy is expected to see the worst performance on GDP, with just 0.1% growth, followed by Germany (0.5%), Belgium (1.2%) and Britain and France (1.3%).

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The latest figures come amid growing that increased tariffs between the USA and China could see a similar escalation of tensions in American trade with Europe.

Stocks across Europe have fallen since US president Donald Trump took markets by surprise with a ratcheting up of tariffs on further Chinese goods.

The commission said the resulting uncertainty, as well as the recent slowdown on global growth and world trade, was weighing on GDP prospects for this year and 2020.

“The European economy is showing resilience in the face of a less favourable external environment, including trade tensions, said Valdis Dombrovskis, the commission’s vice-president for the euro and social dialogue.

“Growth is set to continue in all EU Member States and pick up next year, supported by robust domestic demand, steady employment gains and low financing costs.

“Yet risks to the outlook remain pronounced. On the external side, these include further escalation of trade conflicts and weakness in emerging markets, in particular China.”

He added: “In Europe, we should stay alert to a possible ‘no-deal Brexit', political uncertainty and a possible return of the sovereign-bank loop.”

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