Ireland had the fastest rate of property price growth in the European Union last year, according to the region’s statistics agency.

Property prices here were 16.3% higher year-on-year by the end of December, according to Eurostat, compared to an average of 1.1% in the euro zone and 2.6% in the wider EU.

The growth in Ireland was also significantly higher than other member states on an individual basis, with Malta recording the next fastest rate at 11%.

By the end of the fourth quarter, Swedish property prices were up 10.4%, prices in Estonia had risen by 10.1% and British prices were 10% higher.

Meanwhile prices in Slovenia were 4.4% lower by the end of December when compared to the same month of 2013 – with prices in Cyprus down by 3.3%.

While the Eurostat figures show Irish property prices surging ahead over the course of 2014, they also show a moderation in the growth rate as the year progressed.

Irish property prices grew by 6.8% between April and June 2014 when compared to the first three months of the year – well ahead of the average growth rate in the region.

However that quarterly rate of growth slowed slightly between July and September and was at a more modest 3.8% by the last three months of 2014.