April 30 (UPI) — The eurozone economy experienced its sharpest pace of decline on record during the first quarter of 2020 as many countries have been forced to close businesses and other services to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The monetary area of the European Union made up of 19 member states saw its Gross Domestic Product contract by 3.8 percent in the first quarter, its worst decline since the 2008 financial crisis.
Within the group, France’s GDP fell 5.8 percent, Spain’s dropped 5.2 percent and Italy slid 4.7 percent in the first three months of the year compared to 2019.
Germany had not yet released national first-quarter GDP estimates on Thursday, but released figures showing that unemployment claims had risen by 373,000 in April.
GDP in the greater European Union also fell 3.5 percent.
European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said eurozone economic growth could fall between 5 percent and 12 percent this year depending “on the duration of the containment measures and the success of policies to mitigate the economic consequences for businesses and workers.”
“The euro area is facing an economic contraction of a magnitude and speed that are unprecedented in peacetime,” she said. “Measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19, have largely halted economic activity in all the countries of the euro area and across the globe.”