But the pace of growth is projected to moderate compared with recent years; driven by slowing global trade and uncertainty, according to the European Commission.
As a result, GDP growth in both the euro area and the European Union likely slipped to 1.9% in 2018, from 2.4% in 2017.
Moving into 2019, GDP growth has been revised down to 1.5% from 1.7%, with a slight recovery expected in 2020 to 1.7%.
Germany, Italy and the Netherlands were among the member states to suffer the biggest downward growth revisions.
While these giants shift from driving growth across the bloc to acting as anchors, an island in the Mediterranean is leading the pack.
Malta’s real GDP growth is estimated to have reached 6.2% in 2018, making it “one of the most dynamic economies in the EU”, according to the EC report.
Looking forward, the EC expects growth to continue at a strong, albeit slower, pace; easing to 5.2% in 2019 and 4.6% in 2020.
This is despite financial services, a mainstay of the Maltese economy, having experienced some turbulence of late, with public condemnation of the regulator’s handling of the collapse of three banks putting the island’s reputation under fire.
Similarly, a recent report from Transparency International ranked Malta among the worst performers in its corruption index.
But, a change at the top of the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) and its ambitious Vision 2021 plan to become a “trustworthy supervision authority” have seen the regulator set out a strategy to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.
Top and bottom
All 28 states are expected to achieve growth this year, but the difference between Malta at the top and Italy at the bottom highlights how disparate the countries are.