The German economy, Europe's biggest, will pick up speed again this year after growth was only sluggish last year, the economy ministry said on Monday.

Two days before the 2013 official growth data are scheduled to be released, the ministry estimated that "gross domestic product (GDP) for the whole of 2013 will be only slightly higher than the previous year's figure owing to the weak winter months."

In 2012, German GDP amounted to 2.666 trillion euros ($3.6 trillion) and the economy grew by 0.7 percent.

Domestic demand was the main driver of the economy, with employment at record levels, the ministry said.

"In the new year, the economy will pick up speed. This is suggested by the latest sentiment indicators, which have improved noticeably in the second half of 2013."

The federal statistics is scheduled to publish its preliminary GDP estimate for 2013 on Wednesday and Berlin, along with most economic think-tanks, is pencilling in growth of 0.5 percent.

The outlook for 2014 is much brighter.

The German central bank, or Bundesbank, recently upgraded its forecast to 1.7 percent and the country's leading economic institutes are pencilling in growth of 1.8 percent.

"The global economic environment has brightened noticeably during the course of last year. Uncertainty connected with the financial crisis and the euro debt crisis has faded," the ministry said.


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