The 17-nation eurozone tipped into recession in the third quarter, with the economy shrinking 0.1 percent compared with the three months to June when it contracted 0.2 percent, official data showed Thursday.
In comparison, the full 27-state European Union eked out growth of 0.1 percent, again after a contraction of 0.2 percent in the second quarter, the Eurostat statistics service said in a statement.
Recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of decline, putting the eurozone technically in recession as the debt crisis undercuts growth and pushes unemployment soaring to record highs.
Compared with the third quarter in 2011, the eurozone economy shrank 0.6 percent in the three months to September while the EU was down 0.4 percent.
Germany, Europe's powerhouse economy and paymaster, managed growth of 0.2 percent in the third quarter, as did France, but struggling Spain shrank 0.3 percent and Italy was down 0.2 percent.
Non-euro Britain posted strong growth of 1.0 percent.
Eurostat noted that the US economy expanded 0.5 percent in the third quarter after a previous quarter gain of 0.3 percent while Japan contracted a sharp 0.9 percent after growth of 0.1 percent.
Compared with a year earlier, the US economy grew 2.3 percent and Japan 0.2 percent.