Evidence of an economic slowdown in the eurozone continues to mount. Beyond the perfunctory celebrations organised at La Valette to celebrate Malta's transition to the euro on 1 January, Jean-Claude Juncker took the opportunity to deliver his scenario for 2008: for the Eurogroup president, the growth of the zone should be between 1.8% and 1.9%, ie a trajectory clearly behind the European Commission's autumn economic forecasts (2.2%). This slowdown will be all the more marked since growth in 2007 finally reached 2.6%.

Is the strong euro to blame? Questioned on this subject, Juncker refused to make any comments contrary to the remarks made by the French minister of European affairs. For Jean-Pierre Jouyet, the problem is "the speed of appreciation [of the euro] and the fact that three other important currencies are too weak, namely the yuan, the yen and the dollar".

Besides the question of interest rates, the Frenchman recalled the differences in inflation within the eurozone. He suggested once again that the Eurogroup should decide "whether the objective set for inflation [of around 2%] is appropriate". In other words, politics should intervene more in the affairs of the European Central Bank, notwithstanding that Germany is categorically opposed to this.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has declared that the expected slowdown in eurozone growth is less connected to the strong euro than to the economic situation in the United States. "I believe that the strong euro may cause...

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