FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The European Union warned Thursday that the spread of the viral outbreak in China is a risk for the economy but that its full impact will depend on how long it lasts and how far it spreads.

The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, said in its winter economic forecast that “the baseline assumption is that the outbreak peaks in the first quarter, with relatively limited global spillovers.”

The longer the outbreak, which has been named COVID-19, lasts, the higher the likelihood of “knock-on effects” through lowered business optimism and tougher access to credit around the globe.

Elsewhere in its forecast, the commission predicted stable growth of 1.2% this year and next in the 19 countries that use the euro as their currency. For the full 27-member European Union growth is expected to ease to 1.4% this year and next from 1.5% last year.

Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said that it’s too early to make an assessment.

But he added: “What is sure is … that the global importance of the China economy will produce an impact.”

The spread of the virus has led to prolonged shutdowns at Chinese plants that are important for the global economy and to reductions in travel.


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