French Economy and Finance Minister Christine Lagarde (file)
French Economy and Finance Minister Christine Lagarde (file)

The European Union has emerged from its worst recession since World War II, with the announcement Friday the region posted a modest growth in the third quarter. Despite the good news, some EU economies are still struggling.

Both the European Union and the sixteen EU countries sharing the euro currency posted positive growth, at 0.2 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. The data was published by the European statistical agency Eurostat and announced by the European Commission in Brussels.

French Economy and Finance Minister Christine Laga
French Economy and Finance Minister Christine Lagarde (file)

Two of Europe's biggest economies, France and Germany, helped drive the overall growth. French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde announced the French economy had grown 0.3 percent in the third quarter, and predicted it would enter 2010 with its old momentum.

In an interview on French radio, Lagarde said the fact the French economy had posted two successive quarters of positive growth showed it was turning around. She also noted that the labor market had only shed 5,000 jobs in the last quarter, far fewer than at the beginning of the year.

Speaking from Singapore, Lagarde predicted Asia would drive the world economic recovery but she also said it was important to continue government economic stimulus measures through 2010.

Germany's economy grew 0.7 percent in the third quarter and Italy and the Netherlands also posted an upturn. Lithuania recorded the biggest growth - up 6 percent in the third quarter.

But both British and Spanish economies shrunk in the third quarter, which suggests the recovery remains fragile. Moreover, Eurostat figures showed that unemployment in Europe overall rose to 9.7 percent in September - the highest in 20 years.