The short-term outlook for the EU economy remains fragile, but a gradual return to GDP growth is projected for 2013, with further strengthening in 2014. On an annual basis, GDP is set to contract by 0.3% in the EU and 0.4% in the Euro area in 2012. GDP growth for 2013 is projected at 0.4% in the EU and 0.1% in the Euro area. Unemployment in the EU is expected to remain very high. The large internal and external imbalances that built up in the pre-crisis years are being reduced, but this process continues to weigh on domestic demand in some countries, and economic activity diverges... significantly across Member States. At the same time, competitiveness lost in the first decade of EMU in some Member States is being gradually restored, so that export growth is projected to increase progressively as global trade starts reaccelerating. Further progress in consolidating public finances is underpinning this rebalancing process.