Inflation in the euro zone hit a 25-year high of 5 percent in December, still driven by soaring energy prices, according to the first estimates published by Eurostat on Friday.
Eurostat has not recorded such figures since January 1997, when it began estimating the 19 countries with a single currency. In November, the inflation rate in the euro area has broken through the historical record of 4.9%.
These figures are well above the 2% inflation target for the euro zone set by the European Central Bank (ECB). However, for monetary institutions, this inflation is temporary and should decline in 2023 after peaking in 2022.
The main reason for the price surge in recent months is the unusually high price of natural gas and electricity.
The annual increase in energy prices reached 26 percent in December, far ahead of other components, Eurostat said in a statement.
Food, alcohol and tobacco prices still rose 3.2%, higher than prices for manufactured goods (2.9%) and services (2.4%).
Among the big countries, Spain (6.7%) and Germany (5.7%) posted the biggest gains last month, beating the European average. Conversely, Italy (4.2%) and especially France (3.4%) are still more price wise, according to European harmonized figures calculated by Eurostat.
Inflation was also particularly high in the Baltic states, with Estonia (12%) hitting the highest level in the euro zone, ahead of Lithuania (10.7%). The smallest price increases were in Malta (2.6%) and Finland (3.2%).