Page last updated at 07:13 GMT, Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Eurozone predicts 'fragile' growth in 2010

Jean-Claude Juncker
Mr Juncker predicts a return to economic growth this year

The economy of the eurozone will grow by about 1% this year, according to the head of the 16-nation bloc.

"Growth is on the path of consolidation but growth in 2010 will be fragile, moderate," Jean-Claude Juncker said.

The eurozone was hit hard by the economic downturn last year, contracting by 4%, its biggest drop since the euro launched in 1999.

Ministers are also deciding how to help Greece, whose poor public finances have put the euro under pressure.

Leaders of the European Union last week pledged to support the country, but stopped short of detailing any exact proposals.

Mr Juncker - also Luxembourg's prime minister - said the nations sharing the single currency would not be revealing details of their planned bail-out for Greece.

Financial markets have been battering world stocks, Greek government debt and the euro as concerns have grown that Greece may default on its huge debts.

New bank deputy

Finance ministers also picked Portugal's central bank head to be the new deputy chief of the European Central Bank (ECB).

Vitor Manuel Ribeiro Constancio will succeed Greece's Lucas Papademos as ECB vice president at the end of May, his country's finance minister announced.

Later this year, ministers will choose a successor to the ECB's top job, currently held by France's Jean-Claude Trichet.

Many observers expect Mr Trichet will be succeeded by German central bank head Axel Weber.

Ministers and bank officials from the eurozone continue to meet in Brussels on Tuesday.

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