Europe's economy officially entered a double-dip recession in the first three months of the year, as it struggled with a surge in COVID-19 cases and a slow vaccine rollout.
GDP shrank by 0.6 per cent across the Eurozone in the first quarter, and by 0.4 per cent across the wider EU27, the latest Eurostat figures show.
That left the European economy contracting for the second quarter in a row, and slipping into a double-dip recession after a rebound in growth last autumn.
The drop in output was smaller than the 1 per cent contraction expected by economists, but still far short of the rebound seen in the United States and China, two other pillars of the global economy.
US growth figures released on Thursday showed that the US economy grew 1.6 per cent during the first quarter, buoyed by widespread coronavirus vaccinations and massive federal stimulus spending.
Economists expect Europe to also see an upturn in the coming weeks as the continent's vaccine rollout accelerates and coronavirus lockdowns are eased.