EU spokesman says Eurozone unemployment is "horrendously high"

European Commission spokesman Dennis Abbott has said that Eurozone unemployment is "horrendously high" after it has fallen for the first time since 2011.

Abbott has said that member states need to carry out reforms to boost employment, but that there is no miracle cure.

Eurozone unemployment has stayed flat at the revised figure of 12.1 per cent in June. Analysts had forecast a slight rise to the unrevised figure of 12.2 per cent.

Among the Member States, the lowest unemployment rates were recorded in Austria (4.6%), Germany (5.4%) and Luxembourg (5.7%), and the highest in Greece (26.9% in April 2013) and Spain (26.3%).

Compared with a year ago, the unemployment rate increased in seventeen Member States and fell in ten. The highest increases were registered in Cyprus (11.7% to 17.3%), Greece (23.1% to 26.9% between April 2012 and April 2013) and Slovenia (8.8% to 11.2%). The largest decreases were observed in Latvia (15.5% to 12.5% between the first quarters of 2012 and 2013) and Estonia (10.1% to 8.0% between May 2012 and May 2013).

Jonathan Loynes, chief European economist, Capital Economics:

The huge divergences between countries – from 4.6% in Austria to 26.3% in Spain - are a powerful reminder of the still enormous economic imbalances inside the currency union.

Christian Schulz, Berenberg:

It may be the turning point yet. But the worst of the mass lay-offs seem to be over and as the economy improves, the Eurozone’s labour market could gradually turn around as well, easing the pressure on the social security systems and thus the public purse. The effect of the crisis countries’ structural reforms may be starting to show gradually. The blueprint of Germany’s agenda 2010 reforms is working in the Eurozone periphery, too.

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist, IHS Global Insight:

June’s dip in unemployment is likely a reflection of recent increased signs that Eurozone economic activity has stabilized, and it fuels hopes that the Eurozone can eke out marginal growth over the second half.

Even so, we doubt that June marks a decisive turnaround in Eurozone labour markets and we suspect that unemployment will trend modestly higher over the coming month.

Some 26.424m are unemployed in the European Union, with 19.266m of those in the euro area.