Belfast Telegraph

Republic economy to outstrip rest of European Union

By Sarah Collins

The Republic's economy will be the EU's fastest-growing this year and next, the European Commission has predicted.

In its latest economic forecast, the body said Ireland's economy would expand by 6% this year. This is almost double last spring's estimate and far outstrips the EU average of 1.9%

The Commission added the growth would come on the back of buoyant consumer spending, investment and exports.

Ireland's economic growth will continue to top the EU's table next year at 4.5%, but it will drop to joint second place at 3.5% in 2017, when Romania will grab the top spot.

The EU's figures differ slightly from the Irish Government's budget day predictions of 6.2% growth this year, 4.3% in 2016, and an average of 3% for the years after.

The EU warned that housing constraints and high debt could pose risks to the Irish economy over the next two years.

However, Ireland's recovery will be "employment-rich", said the Commission, with the jobless rate falling from 9.5% this year to 7.9% in 2017.

Unemployment in the euro area will stick at double digits, falling from 11% this year to 10.3% in 2017, according to the study.

The EU's figures show that Ireland's budget deficit was estimated at 2.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015, falling to 1.5% of GDP next year and in 2017.

But the Republic's level of gross debt - the amount the Government borrows to finance past and future spending - is to remain in the EU's top seven.

Belfast Telegraph