French President Francois Hollande heads to Berlin later Tuesday and is expected to press the case for a more growth-friendly approach to the debt crisis when he meets German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Kickstarting economic growth was a central plank of Hollande's electoral platform, not just in France but across Europe as a whole.
Growth-friendly measures include reducing red tape for small businesses, making it easier for workers to find jobs across the eurozone and breaking down barriers that countries have created to protect their own industries. Some economists go a step further and say governments should actually increase spending while economies are so weak — and make reining in deficits a longer-term goal.
Merkel, who has led Europe's response to its mushrooming crisis over the past couple of years, has preached a cocktail of austerity and economic reforms as the eurozone's only viable and long-lasting route out of the debt morass.
Greece, which is currently without a government and is now on course for another general election in June, saw its economy contract by an annual rate of 6.2 percent, slightly better than the 7.5 percent decline recorded in the previous three month period. The Greek government agreed to a harsh austerity program in order to qualify for an international bailout.
The figures are subject to change as Eurostat continues to collect figures. Several countries, including Ireland and Slovenia, have yet to release quarterly figures and for Greece there are only year-on-year comparisons.
David McHugh in Frankfurt contributed to this story.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.