The euro zone's trade surplus widened in June from a year earlier and from the previous month as imports continued to fall, the EU's statistics office Eurostat has said.

The trade figures and data showing inflation remains weak underscored the fragile nature of the bloc's economic recovery.

Imports in the 17 countries using the euro showed a 6% decline on the year for a second consecutive month in June, while exports extended their fall to 3% and showed the second monthly drop in a row.

Eurostat confirmed the July annual inflation rate was flat at 1.6% for the second month in a row, staying well below the European Central Bank's target of just under 2%.

Consumer prices fell by 0.5% on the month in July with prices declining across the board, except for services and volatile energy costs.

The euro zone emerged from recession in the second quarter as expected, growing 0.3% from the previous quarter after 18 months of contraction.

The recovery is widely seen as weak and uneven, however, as record unemployment and doubts over the sustainability of the area’s public and private debt prevent a strong rebound. Analysts see no healthy growth before 2015.

Inflation in the single currency area will ease in the coming months after price pressures fell further from the three-year lows hit in May, an indicator designed to predict cyclical trends showed earlier this month.

The European Central Bank, which has said it will keep interest rates at record lows for an extended period of time, expects inflation to temporarily fall in the coming months with risks still broadly balanced.