Gross domestic product (GDP) across the euro area plunged by a record 12.1% in the second quarter, compared to the previous quarter, as coronavirus lockdowns brought commercial and social life to a standstill and plunged the bloc into a deep recession.
Output in the 19-country currency block had declined by 3.6% in the first quarter. Today’s second-quarter data however is the biggest drop in GDP since record-keeping started in 1995.
The EU’s major economies also released their own quarterly data this week.
Germany, the bloc’s largest economy reported a GDP decline of 10.1% in the April-to-June quarter. The federal statistics bureau described it as “the steepest decline since quarterly GDP calculations for Germany began in 1970… even more pronounced than during the financial market and economic crisis.”
France, the second largest economy, fared worse, with output shrinking by 13.8%, also a historic low.
Italy’s economy contracted by 12.4% in the second quarter from the previous one, a smaller slump than the 15% quarter-on-quarter drop predicted by analysts.
Spain, one of the worst-hit EU countries in terms of coronavirus cases and deaths, reported an 18.5% fall in GDP in the second quarter, a steeper drop than the 16.6% economists had predicted.
The Spanish economy, which had already shrunk by 5.2% in the first quarter, is now in its steepest recession ever.
EU countries like Spain are in urgent need of financial support from the EU as they tries to dig themselves out of recession. Earlier this month, EU leaders approved a €750bn (£677bn, $890bn) coronavirus recovery package in Brussels, of which around half will be issued as grants to struggling member states.
Spain, which relies heavily on tourism, expressed its frustration at the UK this week, after the British government introduced a 14-day quarantine on people returning from the popular summer vacation destination.
Germany, which fared much better than the UK, France, Italy, and Spain in managing to slow the spread of the coronavirus, is concerned about a second wave of the virus taking hold. On Thursday (30 July) the country’s public health institute reported 902 new cases in one day, the highest number since 15 May.