It’s been five years since the global financial crisis ravaged markets around the world, and four years since the unfolding of the European debt crisis.
The euro currency was launched on January 1st, 1999, so its 15th anniversary is just around the corner. But is it a reason to celebrate? As the world’s biggest economic bloc, the Eurozone finally walked out of a six quarter recession in 2013. But experts caution it is still too early to be overly optimistic.
The eurozone is now in a better shape than at the height of the debt crisis. On Dec. 15th, Ireland announced it has exited the bailout, making it the first eurozone country to withdraw from the EU rescue. For two other troubled bailout countries, Portugal and Spain, they have secured positive GDP growth in the third quarter of 2013.
Structural reform to address the social problems across the eurozone is high on the agenda for the new year, especially fighting stubbornly high unemployment rates of a near-record high of 12.1% in Oct. 2013.
Experts say there are still chilly headwinds facing the eurozone countries, in particular the Eurozone’s political and economic integration.
One key challenge is the establishment of the European banking union. Finance ministers of eurozone countries have been struggling to reach a consensus for over a year and a half, divided by political fractions and opposition from Germany. On Dec.19th, the ministers have finally reached a deal on a single resolution system. However, experts say it will still take time for the eurozone to seal the final banking union plan.