The Commission forecasts a recovery of growth in the candidate countries in 2003 due to an expected return to normal.
The Commission’s Spring Economic Forecasts for the Candidate Countries, released on 24 April, predict 4 percent average growth for the 13 candidate countries in 2003. In 2001, annual average growth in the 10 Central European candidate countries was 3.1 percent, but the figure was brought down to -0.1 percent for all 13 candidates by Turkey, which recorded a real GDP contraction of 7.4 percent.
Inflation in the candidate countries is also expected to go down, helped by lower international commodity prices. The expected reduction in average inflation is also the result of policy efforts in the high-inflation countries such as Romania and Turkey.
The candidate countries suffered a rise in unemployment in 2001 due to continued enterprise restructuring and higher productivity growth. Higher employment creation should lead to a slightly improved labour market situation in 2003, according to the Commission.
The candidate countries’ external deficits declined slightly in 2001 due to more favourable trade terms. The acceleration of export demand in 2002 and 2003 should prevent a significant deterioration of external balances, states the Commission.
The Commission warns that general government deficits in the candidate countries remain relatively high.