The eurozone has finally emerged from a crippling 18-month recession, due to higher than expected growth in Germany and France.

The European Union's statistics office, Eurostat, says the 17 EU countries that use the euro saw their collective GDP (gross domestic product) grow by 0.3 percent in a three month period ending in June. In the first quarter the economy shrank 0.3 percent, extending the recession for a record six quarters - the longest period since the euro's launch.

The improvement was largely due to growth among the eurozone's largest members: Germany, whose economy increased by 0.7 percent, and France which saw a quarterly growth of 0.5 percent.

Another country with a surprising improvement was Portugal which had an expansion of 1.1 percent, an increase that came despite taking an economic bailout and reporting record-high unemployment.

Analysts say they do not expect the eurozone to return to sustained economic growth until 2015.