The EU economy grew at its fastest rate in 10 years in 2017, registering a 2.5% increase on the year before. It is the highest annual growth since 2007, when the economy expanded by 2.7%. The bloc of 28 countries put in a strong performance in the final quarter of the year, growing 0.6%, mainly driven by good economic results from Germany, Spain and France.
However, Eastern European states including Slovakia and Bulgaria also contributed. The figures, released by the European Union statistics office Eurostat, showed that the eurozone – which encompasses the 19 countries using the single currency – also had a good year, with GDP growth of 2.5%.
The strength of the figures show the extent to which the UK has been trailing its European counterparts. UK GDP grew by 1.8% overall in 2017, the slowest rate of increase since 2012.
The EU figures kept the FTSE 100 and European markets in a good mood for most of the morning, with each of the main indices up by around 0.6%. That progress reversed however after US inflation increased by more than expected, raising fears of that a rate rise sooner than investors would like.