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Eurozone economy grows 1.5% in 2015

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The economies of the 19 countries that use the euro expanded by 1.5% in 2015.

In the last three months of the year, they grew 0.3%, compared with the previous three months, according to the statistics agency Eurostat.

The 28 countries of the EU also grew 0.3% in the fourth quarter, to a GDP growth rate of 1.8% for the full year.

Growth slowed during 2015, suggesting that more action may be needed to stimulate economies from the European Central Bank (ECB).

"We continue to think that further monetary easing is required, with further policy rate cuts on the cards from March onwards," said Nick Kounis, economist at ABN Amro.

Eurostat also announced on Friday that industrial production had fallen 1% in December compared with the previous month, both for the eurozone and the EU.

Year on year, it fell 1.3% in the eurozone and 0.8% in the EU.

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Second quarter of Greek contraction

The biggest contraction in GDP came in Greece, where the economy shrank 0.6% in the fourth quarter, which was better than had been expected.

But the contraction in the third quarter turned out to have been bigger than previously thought, being revised from 0.9% to 1.4%.


Analysis: Andrew Walker, economics correspondent

Several eurozone governments following austerity policies have faced protests on the streets and at the ballot box.

But could it have been a little easier?

That is where Germany comes in. There certainly is a view that Germany has in effect made it harder than it need have been.

How so? Germany surely is the seat of eurozone financial prudence and virtue? Well, there is a case that those features of Germany are a problem for the others.

Read more from Andrew here


The German economy expanded by 0.3% in the final three months of 2015, to an annual rate of 1.7%.

The German statistics agency said that government spending was "markedly up", while household consumption rose slightly.

The figures follow surprisingly poor industrial production data for December.

"Slow but steady was the retrospective motto for 2015," said Thomas Gitzel, VP Bank group chief economist, saying the fourth quarter growth was "not exhilarating" but also not a reason to worry.

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