Growth within the euro zone, the area of 17 EU member states which have adopted the euro as their common currency, reached 1.84 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year compared with the previous three months.
Leading the way was Estonia which achieved output growth of 10.17 per cent, according to the statistics compiled by Eurostat. Other strong performers included Lithuania which achieved growth of 3.79 per cent, Finland at 3.38 per cent and Romania which achieved 3.31 per cent.
The second highest growth rate of west European countries was achieved by the Netherlands which managed 3 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year.
Germany, France and the UK showed growth of 2.74 per cent, 0.86 per cent and 0.77 per cent respectively.
Six countries showed negative growth with Ireland’s food and drink sector showing a 2.45 per cent decline. Portugal reported a 1.63 per cent fall followed by Denmark at -1.3 per cent and Hungary at -1.11 per cent.
The Italian food and drink sector contracted by 0.43 per cent during the last quarter of 2010 while Greece fell by 0.65 per cent.
But the CIAA Economic Bulletin noted: “Signs of mild recovery in industrial orders are also shown by Greece, where industry output is slowly increasing despite remaining in negative digits (-0.65%) whereas after experiencing a positive quarter in its output growth, figures for Italy are decreasing slightly once again.”
Meanwhile, industrial production increased by 0.6% during the last quarter of 2010 in the euro area and by 0.5% in the 27 EU member states compared to the previous quarter.
Industrial orders aggregated for the EU 27 climbed by 1.6% and by 1.9% for countries in the euro zone. “As such, they continue to provide good prospects for an increase in industrial output during Q1 of 2011,” according to the CIAA report.
There was a slow increase in retail trade volumes in the Euro area during the last quarter of 2010 with 0.3 per cent growth in the euro area but a fall of 0.1 per cent in EU 27 compared with the previous three months.
The non-food sector registered growth at 0.8 per cent in the euro area and 2.1% across EU 27.