European economy expands by 0.3% in Q2 – but signs of growth are still fragile


The eurozone economy grew by 0.3% in the second quarter of 2013, after 18 months of contraction, prompting optimistic claims that the recession may have come to an end.

Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, seasonally adjusted GDP fell by 0.7% in the 17-country eurozone area, Eurostat statistics released yesterday confirm.

The rise represents an annual growth rate of about 1.1%, led by Germany and France, both posting stronger than expected quarterly rates of 0.7%and 0.5% respectively.

However, the European Commission warned against “congratulatory statements”.

‘Subdued, mild recovery’

Commission vice-president Olli Rehn said: “The figures, when combined with other recent positive survey data, are encouraging and suggest the European economy is gradually gaining momentum. They support the European Commission’s 2013 spring forecast and its projections for a subdued, mild recovery in the second half of 2013.”

Self-congratulatory statements suggesting the crisis is over are not for today’

However, he added: “This slightly more positive data is welcome - but there is no room for any complacency. Self-congratulatory statements suggesting the crisis is over are not for today. 

“There are still substantial obstacles to overcome. The growth figures remain low and the tentative signs of growth are still fragile. The averages hide important differences between member states – a number of states still have unacceptably high unemployment rates. And the implementation of essential, but difficult, reforms across the EU is still in its early stages … So there is still a very long way to go.”

Overall growth in the euro area masks the economic difficulty felt among some of the countries that make up the eurozone area. Spain saw its economic output fall by 0.1% on the quarter, while output in both Italy and the Netherlands dropped by 0.2%