The economy of the 17-nation eurozone shrank 0.1 percent in the July-September period after a decline of 0.2 percent in the second quarter, the European Union's statistics agency said Thursday.
Two consecutive quarters of contraction is the official definition of recession.
The EU as a whole - with 27 members - narrowly avoided entering a recession, rebounding from a 0.2 percent fall in April-June to grow 0.1 percent in the third quarter, Eurostat said in its latest estimates.
Eurozone GDP was down 0.6 percent in the third quarter compared with the same period in 2011, while the EU economy as a whole had year-on-year growth of 0.4 percent.
Spending by households held steady in the third quarter in the eurozone nations and rose slightly across the EU, Eurostat said.
Capital formation was down 0.7 percent in the eurozone and 0.6 percent in the wider EU, while exports climbed 0.9 percent for both.
The unemployment rate for the countries that use the euro inched up in October to a record-high 11.7 percent, Eurostat said last Friday.
Spanish unemployment rose from 25.8 percent in September to 26.2 percent, the highest rate in the EU, followed by Greece, 25.4 percent; and Portugal, 16.3 percent.
Nearly 26 million people were unemployed across the entire European Union and 18.7 million people in the eurozone in October, according to Eurostat estimates. EFE