France was described as the new “sick man of Europe” today as the euro zone’s strongest growth for two-and-a-half years left the struggling nation trailing behind.
Financial data provider Markit said activity among France’s manufacturing and services firms declined more deeply in December, putting the country in danger of re-entering technical recession — two successive quarters of decline — after output shrank between July and September.
President François Hollande is wrestling with a sluggish economy and unemployment at a 16-year high. France’s woes contrast with stronger growth in the wider region, which advanced at its fastest since April 2011, and Germany, on course for 0.5 per cent growth in the current quarter.
Markit’s Chris Williamson said: “It’s the unbalanced nature of the upturn among member states that is the most worrying. France looks increasingly like the new “sick man of Europe.”