Figures released by the various EU member states today show that the countries with the strictest lockdown measures in place, will be faced with the biggest economic contraction as a result. Although everyone is focused today on Germany, which saw a fall of 2.2% as the bloc’s biggest country, the economic output in the whole euro area is far worse as it suffered its sharpest decline in more than a decade.
The first quarter of this year was put into figures by the European Commission official statistics body EuroStat, which shows that the GDP growth rate contracted by 3.3 per cent in the period following an expansion of 1 per cent in the previous quarter.
Furthermore, the severity of the lockdown appears to have a major impact on the economic contraction of the various European countries. Countries with the strictest measures to control the coronavirus also showed the largest contraction in the first quarter.
North versus South Europe
This is evident from the growth figures that various European countries released on Friday. The tighter the lockdown, the greater the economic impact.
In France and Spain, the economy shrank by more than 5 percent in the first quarter. Italy shrank by 4.8 percent. A strict lockdown regime was applied in these three Southern European countries.
According to Oxford University’s Government Response Tracker, which compares all measures taken by countries, measures in France and Spain quickly became quite severe. They scored nearly 90 points on a hundred scale at the end of the first quarter.
Germany and Great Britain, which have taken similar measures, are also seeing their economies shrink with similar figures. Great Britain introduced its strict measures much later in March, so that greater effects on the economy are not expected to be seen until April.
Sweden comes out as a winner
One of the least affected countries is Sweden, where the economy shrank by only 0.3 percent in the first quarter. Sweden also took the least stringent measures. On the Oxford scale, the country will score 38 points at the end of March.
There is a contraction of 3.8 percent throughout the euro zone.