France assumed Germany’s traditional role as the driving economic force in Europe after a strong finish to last year, while the German economy contracted in the final three months as it grappled with a resurgence of the coronavirus, official data showed Friday.
Economists expect growth across Europe to return to prepandemic levels in the first part of this year but with the pace varying by country. A variety of factors will play a role in the speed of recovery, including restrictions surrounding the pandemic and how reliant the countries are on manufacturing, which is still plagued by backups.
“We expect a stronger pickup in growth later this year as supply bottlenecks ease and consumer demand picks up,” said Katharina Koenz, an economist with Oxford Economics, but she cautioned that the crunch in the energy markets and lingering constraints from the clogged global supply chain would continue to drag on growth. Germany relies on exports for more than 46 percent of its economy, which is deeply intertwined with markets in the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies.