The European press blames the economic shrinkage on austerity policies that prevail in most single currency states, with some newspapers advocating a change of course.
“The eurozone has become a recession zone,” remarks La Tribune, which wonders on its front page, if “Europe has been sickened by austerity.” For the French business daily, the figures that were published on February 14 amount to a “Saint Valentine’s Day massacre”–“The latest quarterly report of a 0.6 per cent decline in the wealth of the eurozone is the biggest slump since 1995. In other words, since Eurostat began to keep statistics on the economic and monetary union.”
In Portugal, the front page of Diário Económico points out that Portugal, which has endured a 3.2 per cent drop in GDP “is in the throes of the worst recession since 1975.” The latest decline, which is more severe than the one predicted by the government will mean that Lisbon will have to revise its forecasts for 2013. According to experts consulted by the daily, shrinkage will exceed the expected level of 1 per cent. In its editorial, Diário Económicoadds that “Alarm signals in such a large number of countries will, of course, oblige European politicians to take action to alleviate the burden weighing on Portugal, Ireland and Greece. And in Portugal, politicians will also be forced to accelerate economic recovery.”
In the Netherlands, NRC Handelsblad reports that the “economy has fallen into its third recession,” since the onset of the debt crisis in 2008. The newspaper argues that the figures have called into question the austerity policies imposed by Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Having blamed the decline in economic activity on a reduction in state investment, it suggests an alternative: “Attempts are being made to convince Brussels to adopt a more flexible budgetary attitude in view of the disappointing economic results throughout the eurozone.”
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