BRUSSELS, July 7 (Xinhua) -- The Eurozone economy grew modestly in the first quarter of this year thanks to strong exports, the European Union (EU)'s statistics office Eurostat reported Wednesday.
The combined economy of the 16 EU nations that use the euro grew by 0.2 percent in the first three months, Eurostat said, confirming previous estimates.
In comparison with the same quarter of the previous year, the eurozone economy rose 0.6 percent, after shrinking 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.
The economic recovery in the eurozone was rather weak if compared with the United States and Japan, whose growth rates were 0.7 percent and 1.2 percent respectively in the first quarter.
There was rising concern that the European economy may plunge into a double-dip recession amid a worsening sovereign debt crisis.
In the first quarter of 2010, positive growth in the eurozone was attributable to strong exports, which increased 2.1 percent quarter on quarter. But household consumption expenditure decreased 0.1 prcent and investments fell 1.2 percent.
The EU economy also grew 0.2 percent on a quarterly basis and 0.5 percent on a yearly basis in the first three months of this year.
Among EU member states for which data were available, Ireland recorded the highest growth rate compared with the previous quarter, which was 2.7 percent. Lithuania saw the sharpest drop of 3.9 percent.