-5.1 % and -4.8 % respectively compared with the fourth quarter of 2019
In the fourth quarter 2020, seasonally adjusted GDP decreased by 0.7% in the euro area and by 0.5% in the EU, compared with the previous quarter, according to a preliminary flash estimate published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. These declines, related to COVID-19 containment measures, follow a strong rebound in the third quarter of 2020 (+12.4% in the euro area and +11.5% in the EU) and the sharpest decreases since time series started in 1995 observed in the second quarter of 2020 (-11.7 % in the Euro Area and -11.4 % in the EU).
According to a first estimation of annual growth for 2020, based on seasonally and calendar adjusted quarterly data, GDP fell by 6.8 % in the Euro Area and 6.4 % in the EU.
These preliminary GDP flash estimates are based on data sources that are incomplete and subject to further revisions.
Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, seasonally adjusted GDP decreased by 5.1 % in the Euro Area, and by 4.8 % in the EU in the fourth quarter of 2020, after -4.3 % in the Euro Area and -4.2 % in the EU in the previous quarter.
Among the Member States, for which data are available for the fourth quarter 2020, Austria (-4.3 %) recorded the highest decrease compared to the previous quarter, followed by Italy (-2.0 %) and France (-1.3 %) while Lithuania (+1.2 %) and Latvia (+1.1 %) recorded the highest increases. The year on year growth rates were still negative for all countries.
Euro area (EA19): Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the
Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia and Finland.
European Union (EU27): Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden.
Methods and definitions
European quarterly national accounts are compiled in accordance with the European System of Accounts 2010 (ESA 2010).
The preliminary flash estimate of the fourth quarter of 2020 GDP growth presented in this release is based on the data of 17 Member States, covering 93 % of Euro Area GDP and 92 % of EU GDP. The country coverage was not affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
Two statistical working papers present the preliminary GDP flash methodology for the European estimates and Member States estimates. The method used for compilation of European GDP estimates is the same as for previous releases.
The first estimation of annual growth for 2020 is derived by dividing the sum of the four quarters of 2020 by the sum of the four quarters of 2019. The quarterly values are expressed in millions of euro (chain-linked volumes) and include a correction for seasonal and calendar effects. The first regular estimates for annual growth in 2020 will be published on 9 March 2021.
With this preliminary flash estimate, Euro Area and EU GDP figures for earlier quarters are not revised.