The European Union says it is emerging from a recession driven by the global economic downturn, but the recovery will be shaky and slow.
The EU economic outlook for 2009 is far from upbeat. Overall, the bloc's economy will shrink by four percent in 2009.
But the European Union also predicts a modest growth of about 0.2 percent in the third quarter, which ends at the end of September. It predicts growth of about 0.1 percent for the fourth quarter, capping this year.
At a press conference in Brussels, EU economic affairs commissioner Joaquin Almunia summed up the year for the 27-member bloc.
"We started 2009 from a lower point because of the downward revision from the end of 2008, but we will end 2009 in a better position than we were expecting a few months ago and this gives us a more positive outlook, not only for the second part of this year but also for the beginning of 2010," said Joaquin Almunia.
But Almunia said the outlook was fraught with uncertainty and gloomy indicators. Unemployment will continue to rise and European government finances are strained by expensive financial bailout packages and other demands. Meanwhile, he predicted energy and food prices will increase, possibly leading to inflation by the year's end.
The EU projections are based on data from seven countries - Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain. These seven countries account for 80 percent of the bloc's gross domestic product. Germany, Europe's biggest economy, is expected to lead the recovery.