April 28 (UPI) -- Europe's economy flatlined in the first quarter with eurozone GDP up by just 0.1%, while the economy of the European Union as a whole did slightly better growing by 0.3%, the EU said Friday.
Continuing GDP stagnation in Germany, the bloc's largest economy, dragged on the other major economies all of which rebounded into the black from the fourth quarter of 2022, preliminary figures from Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, show.
Among the 20 EU countries that use the euro, German GDP was 0% compared to 1.6% growth in Portugal and 0.5% in Italy, Ireland and Latvia. GDP data was not available for all countries.
But GDP on an annual basis was up by an estimated 1.3% across both areas compared to the January to March period last year, with Spain, Portugal and Ireland posting the strongest performances.
Spain's economy grew by 3.8%, Ireland's by 2.6% and Portugal saw a rise of 2.5%. By contrast, Germany's economy continued to contract with GDP falling into the red by 0.1% after three consecutive quarterly declines in 2022.
Taken with the last quarterly figures in January which showed eurozone GDP stuttered, slowing to 0.1% in the October to December period due to contracting economies in almost a third of the countries that use the Euro, the outlook is somber.
In its World Economic Outlook earlier this month, the IMF forecast that 2.7% of GDP will be lost across the Eurozone as growth slows from 3.5% in 2022 -- before recovering to +1.4% in 2024.
The GDP figures come ahead of a May 4 interest rate meeting of the European Central Bank which will weigh up how much it needs to hike rates to tame inflation currently running at 6.9% without extinguishing the zone's already weak growth.
The ECB's key rate stands at 3.5% with policymakers said to be leaning toward a 25 or 50 basis point hike to 3.75% or 4%.