The eurozone economy posted robust growth last year, official data showed, but fallout from the Omicron variant and an energy crunch have raised doubts about the bloc’s ability to sustain the pace.
While historic, the 5.2 percent expansion failed to regain all the ground lost to the crash suffered in 2020, when the first shock of the coronavirus pandemic saw the eurozone contract by a cataclysmic 6.4 percent.
The strength of the eurozone’s recovery trailed the boom in the U.S., which grew by 5.6 percent in 2021. China’s leapt by 8.1 percent, according to government data.
The Eurostat data office said the full 27-country EU economy, which includes several large economies that do not use the euro such as Poland and Sweden, grew by 5.9 percent.
Analysts said the rebound showed strong divergences especially late in the year, with export powerhouse Germany seeing negative growth in the final quarter, and France, Spain and Italy expanding healthily.
Jessica Hinds of Capital Economics warned that for the eurozone’s core economies, where Germany is essential, “further gains will be much harder going, particularly against a backdrop of still acute supply shortages”.
The German government lowered its economic growth forecast for 2022 because of problems posed by Omicron and its effect on the global supply chain, a crucial concern for Europe’s biggest economy.