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Eurozone economy shrinks for first time since 2009

Data published by the EU’s statistics body shows that the European economy shrank by 0.3 per cent in Q4 of 2011.

Flying high? The EU economy shrank for the first time in 30 months at the end of 2011.
Flying high? The EU economy shrank for the first time in 30 months at the end of 2011.
Image: Virginia Mayo/AP

ECONOMIC OUTPUT in the eurozone has fallen for the first time in two and a half years, according to data published this morning.

Data compiled by the EU’s statistics body Eurostat showed that the combined economy of the 17 member states – and also of the entire 27-member European Union – had shrank by 0.3 per cent in the last quarter of 2011 when compared to the previous one.

The last time that the economy had shrank in the continent as a whole was in the second quarter of 2009 – before the credit crisis led to the first of three euro member states requiring a bailout.

When compared to the same quarter of 2010, however, the eurozone economy had grown by 0.7 per cent, while the EU economy as a whole was up by 0.9 per cent.

The Eurostat figures are provisional because eight of the 27 EU members – including Ireland – are still to release data on their economic performance for the final quarter.

Of the 19 members states who have reported data, Slovakia had the best performance – with growth of 0.9 per cent – while Lithuania’s economy shrank by the same rate.

France’s economy grew by a modest 0.2 per cent, while Germany’s shrank at the same rate – though their annual rates of growth were at 1.4 and 2.0 per cent respectively.

Ireland’s most recent data, showing GDP shrinking by 1.9 per cent in Q3, made Ireland the worst economic performer by far in the EU for that quarter.

Read: Trade surplus falls by 23 per cent in December

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Gavan Reilly

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