Richard North, 04/08/2004  

According to The Times this morning, the eurozone’s recovery remains fragile and is vulnerable to frail consumer demand and the risk of a further rise in the already strong euro.

This was the view of the International Monetary Fund, which has just carried out its annual "health check" of the eurozone’s economic prospects. It agreed that short-term prospects were better than had been forecast but called for "urgent action to tackle both immediate problems and deep-seated long-term challenges".

But Michael Deppler, director of the IMF’s European Department, was not convinced that the necessary measures were in place. "The area’s structural and fiscal policies do not add up to the forward-looking response needed to revive long-term growth and deal with fiscal pressure arising from rapid population ageing," he said.

In a swipe at the EU’s "Lisbon agenda" for economic reform, he cut to the core of the economic pretentions of the eurozone members. "Everything is a priority and, hence, nothing is a priority," Deppler said.

Perhaps they need another task force - to prioritise their priorities. But will they give it sufficient priority?

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