The debt crisis dragged the euro zone into its second recession since 2009 in the third quarter, despite modest growth in Germany and France, data showed on Thursday. Both leading economies managed 0.2% growth in the July-September period.
But the resilience could not save the
austerity-hit 17-nation bloc from overall contraction as the likes of The Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Austria shrank.
Economic output in the euro zone fell 0.1% in the quarter, following a 0.2% drop in the second quarter.
Those two quarters of contraction put the euro zone's 9.4 trillion euro ($12 trillion) economy in recession, although Italy and Spain have been contracting for a year already and Greece is suffering an outright depression.
A rebound in Europe is still far off. The debt crisis that began in Greece in late 2009 is still reverberating around the globe and holding back a lasting recovery from the Great Recession of 2008/2009 in much of the world.
"That was the last good number Germany for the time being," said Joerg Kraemer, chief economist at Commerzbank.
"The business climate ... has caved in."
Most economists expect Germany to contract in the fourth quarter for the first time since the end of 2011.
Where Germany goes, France is likely to follow and economists expect its economy to shrink in the October-December period.For all of 2012, the European Commission sees the euro zone contracting 0.4%, while growing just 0.1% in 2013.
Business surveys point to difficult times ahead and the public's backlash to austerity polices is growing.
Millions of workers went on strike across Europe on Wednesday to protest government spending cuts they say are driving the region into a deeper malaise.