Western Daily Press: Is that a recovery we can see on the European horizon?
The letters pages of the Western Daily Press demonstrate vividly how divided we are on the issue of our country's membership of the European Union.
For every one of our readers who argues for retreat from Europe, another insists that inclusion is the only way forward.
Today, we offer some news that should hopefully inform the debate that daily rages in the columns that follow this article.
For, after the best part of a year and a half of recession, the evidence suggests – just – that the eurozone economy is on the mend. Although the numbers are finally heading in the right direction, they are the very smallest of improvements. Nor do they indicate that the euro's troubles are over – not by a long way. But they do lead us to believe that recovery is coming, however laboured it may appear.
Here are the headlines that cause us to be optimistic: the European bloc is back in growth, by a whisker, with Germany leading the way, as you would imagine. But crucially, France is now out of recession, and so too is Portugal – and although Italy and Spain are still going backwards, they are doing so only slightly. Even Greece's painful 4.6 per cent second-quarter decline looks a little less worrying when set against the 5.6 per cent that went before.
But overall, the eurozone is healthier than it was and business and consumer confidence are both markedly improved.
We would caution against overmuch optimism, however. For example, unemployment across the eurozone has come down a fraction recently but it is still near record highs. Across the south, the problem is particularly acute. It is true also that youth unemployment levels heading for the 50 per cent mark and in some cases higher are blighting the lives of a generation, fostering social divisions and political extremism in the process in some nation states.
A recovery without jobs is a recovery without hope, and European politicians would do well to attend to this issue above all others if they are to build on these welcome indications of slender growth. While even the most tentative signs of economic recovery are to be welcomed, the hard work is not yet done.