But Robert Alster at Close Brothers Asset Management warned of a divide between industrial economies in the north and tourist-reliant nations in the south, despite the start of UK tourism to Portugal. This could spark a return to the two-speed Europe which raised questions over the stability of the bloc after the financial crisis.
Mr Alster said: “The risk now is that the north/south divide continues to widen. Germany’s economic growth is not far behind the UK’s, with its vaccination programme set to overtake, whereas Spain’s economy has been hardest hit,” he said.
“The northern countries have benefited from strong manufacturing growth, with the US and China driving global demand, whereas the Southern countries are on tenterhooks to see whether the European tourism season can go ahead.”
Two consecutive quarters of contraction mean the currency area is officially in recession again, despite not fully recovering from the initial shock of Covid.
GDP remains more than 4pc below its pre-pandemic peak at the end of 2019.
Employment fell by 0.3pc in the first quarter of 2021, meaning the number of people in work is still almost 3.6m below its pre-Covid level.
Jack Allen-Reynolds at Capital Economics said the jobs market should soon start to recover too, but that the rebound in hiring will probably be quite slow.
He said: "Many firms will be able to raise output by increasing employees’ working hours before they start taking on more staff."
Europe and the USA adopted very different methods of supporting the economy during the pandemic. The USA favoured giving direct support to workers by boosting unemployment benefits. Europe favoured supporting companies so they would not fire large numbers of workers. Both sets of policies have resulted in unintended consequences.Click HERE to subscribe to Fuller Treacy Money Back to top