BRUSSELS: The doom-mongers at the European Commission have been busy hammering the final nails into the coffins of some of the continent's hitherto strongest economies.

Europe's powerhouse, Germany, with the UK and Spain are on course for recession before the year's end, says the EC, the inevitable result of high energy and food prices and the global financial downturn.

Warns Joaquin Almunia, economic and monetary affairs commissioner: "The outlook for growth has clearly worsened for the second half of this year."

The 27-member bloc's GDP growth forecast has been trimmed for the year to 1.4%, from previous estimates of two percent.

Meantime, the Eurozone's growth is expected to slow to 1.3% from a previous forecast of 1.7%. Inflation is likely to hit an average 3.6%.

Germany's DIW institute for economic research confirms the EC's depressing forecast and predicts that the nation's economy will contract by 0.1% during the third quarter.

In Britain economic activity is expected to contract by 0.2% in Q3 and Q4 (two successive negative growth quarters equal recession).

While in Spain, the EC predicts 2008 growth at 1.4%, down from its April estimate of 2.2%, with the economy contracting by 0.1% in Q3 and 0.3% in Q4.

However, Josef Ackermann, ceo of Deutsche Bank, believes there is reason for more optimism, with an upturn - if not around the next corner - certainly appearing on the horizon.

"We see stabilization. We see the beginning of the end. There is growing confirmation of that."

Data sourced from Deutsche Welle (Germany); additional content by WARC staff