Poland and Slovakia will be the fastest growing EU economies this year, reports Warsaw based daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna. According to European Commission estimates for 2010, GDP will rise by 1.8% in Poland and 1.9% in Slovakia, significantly outpacing the 0.7% level of growth expected across the EU. “The Polish banking system remained fundamentally sound throughout the crisis, which gave consumer spending a much needed boost”, explains Mark Allen, head of the IMF mission in Poland. In his view, with strong exports and buoyant consumer spending, Polish GDP may well exceed forecasts to rise above 2 %. However, the Poles will still have to overcome problems posed by an increasing budget deficit — expected to reach 7.5% of GDP next year — and rising unemployment, which may jump from the current level of 8.4% to 9.9%. In Slovakia, Respekt reports that economic growth spurred by the January 2009 introduction of the euro did not result in increased inflation— a fact, which has contributed to Slovaks’ growing “fondness for the new money.” A survey quoted by the Czech daily found that three quarters of the population were pleased with the European currency.