The signs of an economic recession in the European Union (EU) became more apparent on Monday after Eurostat announced that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the Euro area as well as in all 27 EU Member States dropped by 1.5 per cent during the fourth quarter of last year.
Flash estimates published by Eurostat showed that during the fourth quarter of 2008, both zones contracted by 1.3 per cent when compared to the previous quarter from -0.2 per cent in the third quarter of 2008.
This was the third successive quarter that the Euro area growth rate registered a drop in GDP, with a modest drop of 0.2 per cent per during the second quarter of 2008.
Compared to the same quarter of the previous year, seasonally adjusted GDP decreased by 1.2 per cent in the euro area and by 1.1 per cent in the EU27 in the fourth quarter of 2008, after +0.6 per cent and +0.8 per cent respectively in the previous quarter.
Over the whole year 2008, GDP grew by 0.7 per cent in the euro area and by 0.9 per cent in the EU27.
The EU Member State which registered the highest drop during Q4 2008 when compared to the previous quarter was Lithuania with 2.4 per cent, followed by euro zone member Germany and Slovakia with a drop of 2.1 per cent respectively, and Portugal with 2.0 per cent.
Italy comes next with a drop of 1.8 per cent, followed by the United Kingdom with a drop of 1.5 per cent, Belgium with a drop of 1.3 per cent, and France with a drop of 1.2 per cent.
Finally, Spain suffered a drop of 1.0 per cent, followed by the Netherlands, which suffered a drop of 0.9 per cent, the Czech Republic with a drop of 0.6 per cent, and Austria with a drop of 0.2 per cent.
The only three Member States that registered GDP growth during the last quarter of last year when compared to the previous quarter were Greece with a growth of 0.3 per cent, Cyprus with a growth of 0.6 per cent and Slovakia with a healthy growth rate of 2.1 per cent.
Eurostat did not publish the GDP estimates for Malta and 11 other Member States in its flash forecast for Q4 2008.
During the fourth quarter of 2008, US GDP decreased by 1.0 per cent compared to the previous quarter, after -0.1 per cent in the third quarter. US GDP decreased by 0.2 per cent compared with the same quarter of the previous year (+0.7 per cent in the previous quarter).