Thanks to gains by Germany and France, the Euro Zone appears to be on the mend. Eurostat, the European Union's statistics office, said the 17 EU countries that use the euro saw their collective economic output increase by 0.3% in the April to June period from the previous quarter. That's the first quarterly growth since the eurozone slipped into recession in the last three months of 2011. The ensuing recession of six quarters was the longest since the euro currency was launched in 1999.
The improvement made up for the previous quarter's equivalent decline and was moderately better than the 0.2%t anticipated in the markets. Growth, however anemic, had been predicted by many economists following an easing in market concerns over Europe's debt crisis over the past year and record low interest rates from the European Central Bank.
The eurozone's growth, which translates to an annualized rate of about 1.2%, is still below the 1.7% the US enjoyed during the second quarter. The wider 27-country EU, which includes non-euro countries such as Britain and Poland, also emerged from its own, milder recession, and like the eurozone is also growing at an annualized rate of around 1.2%.
Growth in Europe provides a boon to the global economy. The EU, which now totals 28 following Croatia's accession in July, has a population of around 550 million and its annual gross domestic product stands at around $17.3 trillion — both more than the U.S., which has GDP of $16.6 billion for 315 million people.
The EU's recovery marks the first time since a brief period in 2011 that the four major pillars of the world economy — the US, China, Japan and Europe — are growing at the same time.