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Eurozone Growth Slows, Unemployment Rate Stagnates

Eurozone’s jobless rate remained at 8.5% in March.Eurozone’s jobless rate remained at 8.5% in March.

Seasonally adjusted unemployment has remained unchanged in the 19-member eurozone, fresh figures from the statistics office have shown. Joblessness is currently at its lowest level since December 2008.

The eurozone’s jobless rate remained at 8.5% in March, compared with the previous month, the EU’s statistics office, Eurostat, reported Wednesday. It added that the rate was down from 9.4% in the same month a year earlier, DW reported.

Eurostat said some 13.8 million people were without a job in March. In the larger 28-member European Union, the unemployment rate stood at 7.1%, also remaining unchanged from February.

The Czech Republic was once again the country with the lowest joblessness in the EU (2.2%), followed by Malta and Germany (3.4%), while unemployment was highest in Greece (20.6%) and Spain (16.1%).

Eurostat figures also showed that economic expansion across the eurozone slowed in the first quarter of the year. In a preliminary estimate, the single currency bloc grew by only 0.4% quarter-on-quarter in the January-to-March period, marking the lowest rate since the third quarter of 2016.

Year-on-year growth was 2.5% in the eurozone and 2.4% in the EU as a whole, Eurostat announced.

 Higher Spending Proposed

The European Commission has proposed a moderate increase in EU spending for the next seven-year budget period in a package approved on Wednesday.

The union’s current trillion-euro budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework, would see “commitments” rise between 2021 and 2027 to €1.27 trillion ($1.52 trillion), in current prices. It is to be funded in part by cuts of around 6% in both agriculture and cohesion funding.

The commitments would translate into 1.11% of the EU27’s gross national income, roughly a 10% increase on the last budget round.

That will mean the national EU contributions from net contributor states like Ireland will also need to increase by on average of around 10% and despite the budget’s moderation will prove difficult to agree unanimously.

The talks with member-states are expected to be prolonged. The commission had hoped that agreement would be reached ahead of next May’s European Parliament elections, but few expect that deadline to be met, although a number of states, Ireland included, have already indicated a willingness to raise their contributions subject to reforms of the budget.

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