EU pushes back eurozone recovery date but lays out hope of improving trend through 2013

The European Union is predicting that the economy of the 17 countries that use the euro will be growing solidly by the end of this year even though it expects the recession to last longer than it did just three months ago.

In its winter forecast, published Friday, the EU Commission, the bloc's executive arm, says the eurozone is likely to contract a further 0.3 percent this year, in contrast to its previous prediction of 0.1 percent growth.

However, it says the retreat masks an improving trend. By the fourth quarter of 2013, it says the eurozone should be 0.7 percent bigger than the same period in 2012.

Olli Rehn, the Commission's top economic official, says recent "decisive" policy actions are "paving the way for a return to recovery."