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EU slashes economic forecasts for due to weakness in France and Germany

BRUSSELS – The European Union cut its already low economic growth forecasts further on Tuesday, indicating the recovery will remain sluggish amid problems for the bigger countries, particularly France and Germany.The official forecast for growth this year in the 18-country eurozone was cut to 0.8 per cent from a prediction of 1.2 per cent made in the spring. Indicating little good was expected next year too, it reduced the 2015 prediction from 1.7 per cent to 1.1 per cent.“The situation in the euro area remains extremely fragile,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.Unemployment in the currency union was forecast to decrease at a painfully slow rate — after 11.6 per cent this year, it is expected to dip to 11.3 per cent next year and 10.8 per cent in 2016.The broader 28-nation EU, which includes non-euro members like Britain and Sweden, was expected to grow 1.3 per cent this year from a previous 1.6 per cent forecast.To help speed up the recovery, EU Financial Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said the bloc should focus on spending on special projects, for which the EU Commission has a 300 billion euro ($375 billion) plan.He said the plan would be presented to the EU parliament before the end of the year. “There is a real sense of urgency.”The economic weakness stems in particular from a poor performance in Europe’s larger countries, with the exceptions of Spain and Britain.GERMANYThe EU Commission sees growth this year “coming to a stop in Germany after a very strong first quarter.”That is expected to be only temporary, however, with Europe’s largest economy forecast to grow again next year “with the support of a robust labour market, favourable financing conditions and improving external demand.” Unemployment is expected to be 5.1 per cent in 2014.Some say Germany should spend more to boost growth because it has the public finances to do so.Merkel acknowledged the need for more investment, but stressed that her government doesn’t believe it should be done “on credit” and defended her drive for budget discipline. “Public investment and private investment must go hand in hand,” she said.FRANCEFrance, Europe’s second biggest economy, has been under pressure for years to improve its performance but the EU said that growth is forecast to remain low in 2014 and 2015. Unemployment is seen increasing to 10.4 per cent this year.“Short-term indicators do not suggest that a firm recovery is imminent,” the EU report said.France has run into trouble with the EU over its high deficit. It should not expect quick turnaround. The EU predicts France’s budget deficit will continue to rise, hitting 4.7 per cent of GDP in 2016, to become the biggest in the eurozone.Finance Minister Michel Sapin said France must work together with its EU partners “to answer together a crucial question: how to regain, as quickly as possible, more growth and jobs.”BRITAINSo often an outsider in EU matters, Britain will be happy to keep to that role with better economic forecasts than most other countries.Its growth is forecast at 3.1 per cent this year and predicted to accelerate. Unemployment is set to stay on a downward trend, moving from 6.2 per cent this year to 5.5 per cent in 2016.CRISIS COUNTRIESMany of the countries that were hit hardest by the financial crisis, mostly in southern Europe, had mostly improved forecasts.Spain should see growth accelerate to 1.7 per cent next year, but joblessness would remain sky high at 24.8 per cent this year before dropping slightly. Greece is expected to return to growth with a 0.6 per cent expansion this year and 3.7 per cent in 2016, compared with a drop of 8.9 per cent in 2011.Ireland, which needed an international bailout ion 2010, is now set to become the fastest growing economy in the EU, with growth slated at 4.6 per cent this year.___Associated Press writers Geir Moulson in Berlin and Greg Keller in Paris contributed to this report.___Raf Casert can be followed on Twitter at AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by Raf Casert, The Associated Press Posted Nov 4, 2014 3:39 am MDT EU slashes economic forecasts for due to weakness in France and Germany read more

Overcast skies threaten to block views of partial solar eclipse in UK

first_imgIf you want to see a partial solar #eclipse in the UK, then about 10% of the sun will be obscured at around 8pm. Clear skies though?…— Simon King (@SimonOKing) August 21, 2017 Gloomy skies are set to stop Britons seeing a partial solar eclipse this evening, forecasters have warned.Just before sunset the moon will appear to take a “bite” out of the sun in a phenomenon lasting roughly 40 minutes.The mid-point will occur at different times around the UK, but overcast weather is likely to obscure the spectacle for most, the Met Office said.The movement of the moon between the Earth and sun will produce a much more dramatic event in the US, where a total eclipse will turn day to night for two minutes. “Anywhere in the east, including London, won’t see anything because it will just be clouded over; also Scotland and Northern Ireland.” Who needs the moon? UK experiences it’s own #solareclipse as clouds block out sun— Gurjit Dehl (@GurjitDehl) August 21, 2017 Due to the partial eclipse occurring near sunset, there is unlikely to be an observable reduction in light, he added.For observers in Edinburgh, the peak of the eclipse is due to be at 7.58pm and for those in Cardiff at 8.05pm.Millions of Americans are gathering along a stretch from Oregon to South Carolina to watch the spectacle – the first total solar eclipse to sweep coast to coast across the US in 99 years.Southern-most Illinois will have the longest period of darkness at two minutes and 44 seconds. The UK is able to see an eclipse today around 8pm. No one will notice, as its August and we’re inevitably going to be clouded over.— Barney (@KieBarnden) August 21, 2017 On British shores, only south-west England and South Wales are expected to have any chance of witnessing the moment through a break in the cloud.Met Office forecaster Martin Bowles said: “It doesn’t look very promising.”It is only going to be about 4% of the sun which will be blotted out, so even if it is perfect weather conditions you won’t see a lot.”From a meteorological point of view it is not looking very good because of the cloud – most people won’t be able to see a thing.”There will be some breaks in the cloud in the south-west of the country – South Wales and south-west England – there will be enough breaks that people who are looking specifically might be able to see a little chip out of the corner of the sun. It is expected to be the most observed and most photographed eclipse in history.Up to five solar eclipses occur each year, but each one is visible only within a limited band across the Earth’s surface where the moon’s shadow happens to fall.The Royal Astronomical Society warned anyone hoping to catch the phenomenon not to look directly at the sun. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more