The euro zone unemployment rate dipped below 12% in February, according to official data from the Eurostat statistics agency, which also revised the rates for recent months.

There were about 18.96 million unemployed people in the euro zone in February, down 35,000 from the January level and 166,000 from a year earlier, Eurostat said.

Unemployment rates were lowest in Austria, with a jobless rate of 4.8%, Germany with 5.1% and Luxembourg at 6.1%.

However, unemployment in Greece remained at 27.5% in December, the month with the latest data available, and Spain, where 25.6% of the workforce was looking for work in February.

In the past year, the job market has deteriorated badly in Cyprus, where unemployment rose from 14.7% in February last year to 16.7% in 2014.

Unemployment in the Netherlands also rose in the period, from 6.2% in February 2013, to 7.3% this year.

The rate in Ireland and Portugal improved however.

In Portugal it fell from 17.5% in 2013 to 15.3% in February this year. Unemployment here dropped from 13.7% to 11.9%.

On the sidelines of a euro zone finance ministers meeting in Athens, Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said that while much progress was still needed, the data in Portugal pointed in the right direction.

In February, youth unemployment across the single currency bloc fell in February to 23.5% from 23.6% a month earlier.

But again, the disparities between member countries were wide with youth unemployment in Germany at 7.7%, but at a staggering 58.3% in Greece for December and 53.6% in Spain. 

Across all the 28-member European Union, unemployment was at 10.6% in February, down from 10.7% in January.