Employment Commissioner Laszlo Andor has warned that there is little prospect of socio-economic improvement in Europe during 2013.
Presenting his annual report on employment and social development on 8 January 2013, he said a "widening gap" was opening between the economic situation in the north and the south of the EU.
The statement came on the same day that new figures showed that youth unemployment in Spain had broken the 50% barrier, reaching 56.5%.
Unemployment as a whole across the EU was recorded as 10.7%, with Spain and Greece being the worst affected.
"2012 has been another very bad year for Europe in terms of unemployment and the deteriorating social situation", said the Commissioner.
Despite high levels of unemployment in many southern European countries, northern countries such as Luxembourg, Germany and Netherlands had unemployment levels of around 5%.
Mr Andor warned that Europe was divided between "countries that seem trapped in a downward spiral of falling output, fast-rising unemployment and eroding disposable incomes, and those that have so far shown good or at least some resilience."
The annual report is part of the EU's "Europe 2020" initiative, which aims to boost employment across the EU by the end of the decade.