The International Labour Organisation warned Friday of a "catastrophic" rise in unemployment, especially among the young, if debt-wracked Greece were to leave the eurozone or if the bloc were to split.
"It would be a catastrophe for the European youth," Ekkehard Ernst, a senior economist at the UN body, told the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
Unemployment in crisis-hit Spain would rise to 27.7 percent by 2014, the ILO economist calculated, with jobless rates among 15-24 year-olds rising to 51.3 percent. Portugal would also suffer a crippling rise in unemployment.
In Germany, Europe's top economy, which is currently enjoying unemployment rates near record lows, close to one in ten would be without a job by 2014.
"The average unemployment rate in the 17 eurozone member states would rise to 13 percent," Ernst told the paper.
The situation would be even worse if the single currency zone were to break up completely, cautioned the economist.
In this event, unemployment in Germany would shoot up to 11.3 percent by 2014 and stay around this level. France would see its jobless rate spike to 17 percent and more than one in three Spaniards would be without a job.
Again, the young would be worst hit, said Ernst. If the euro were to crash, youth unemployment would rise to 34 percent in France, 38 percent in Italy and an eye-watering 59 percent in Spain.