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european economy

Eurozone has emerged from recession after a record 18 months of economic contraction.

According to the Eurostat agency, eurozone’s GDP grew by 0.3% in the second quarter of 2013, slightly ahead of forecasts.

The growth was widely expected after the German economy rose 0.7% between April and June.

However, the overall figure masks the mixed economic fortunes among the countries that make up the 17-country eurozone area.

Germany and France both posted stronger-than-expected growth, expanding 0.7% and 0.5% respectively.

Portugal, among the smallest and the weakest eurozone economies, showed the fastest growth, at 1.1%.

Eurozone has emerged from recession after a record 18 months of economic contraction

Eurozone has emerged from recession after a record 18 months of economic contraction

The country was one of three that had to take a multi-billion-euro bailout.

But Spain, which had to seek outside support for its struggling banking sector, saw its economic output fall by 0.1% on the quarter.

Italy and the Netherlands both saw output drop by 0.2%.

European Commission Vice-President Olli Rehn said the figures suggested the European economy was gradually gaining momentum, but added there was no room for complacency.

“There are still substantial obstacles to overcome: the growth figures remain low and the tentative signs of growth are still fragile,” he said.

“A number of member states still have unacceptably high unemployment rates; the implementation of essential, but difficult reforms across the EU is still in its early stages. So there is still a very long way to go.”

Analysts from Capital Economics said: “The return to modest rates of economic growth in the eurozone as a whole won’t address the deep-seated economic and fiscal problems of the peripheral countries.”

The figures reaffirm Germany’s position as the powerhouse behind the eurozone.

Germany narrowly avoided recession earlier this year, but GDP in the second quarter of 2013 was driven up by demand from both consumers and businesses.

The improvement comes just weeks before a federal election that will see Chancellor Angela Merkel stand for a third term in office.

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According to results from the European Commission, horse DNA has been found in up to 5% of beef products randomly tested across the EU.

Inspectors also found the banned anti-inflammatory horse drug phenylbutazone, or “bute”, in 0.5% of horsemeat tested.

The EU said it was “a matter of food fraud and not of food safety”.

The three-month programme of checks was agreed by the 27 EU member states in February after horsemeat had been found in a batch of Findus frozen lasagne.

Horse DNA has been found in up to 5 percent of beef products randomly tested across the EU

Horse DNA has been found in up to 5 percent of beef products randomly tested across the EU

“Restoring the trust and confidence of European consumers and trading partners in our food chain following this fraudulent labeling scandal is now of vital importance for the European economy,” said EU Commissioner for Health and Consumers Tonio Borg.

Tonio Borg said the Commission would “propose to strengthen the controls along the food chain in line with lessons learned.”

Of the 4,144 tests carried out across the EU for the presence of horsemeat DNA, 193 were positive (4.66%).

There were 3,115 tests for bute, of which 16 were positive (0.51%).

In addition, member states reported another 7,951 tests for horse DNA performed by food business operators; of these 110 were positive (1.38%).

The number of tests varied between 10-150 samples depending on the size of the EU country and on consumption habits, the Commission said.

The tests were commissioned by the EU amid concerns about possible fraudulent attempts to sell horsemeat as processed beef in a number of member states.

The tests, although not comprehensive, provide an indication of the scale of the problem.

Last week the Dutch government announced that, as part of its investigations, it had identified two processing plants that might have supplied horsemeat as beef since January 2011.

The European Commission believed the EU had one of the best food safety systems in the world but it relied on a complex web of suppliers.

The food companies across the EU were so interwoven that one fraud could have a serious ripple effect across a number of countries.

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