Angela Merkel,German Chancellor, attends debates at the Bundestag after giving a government declaration on the Euro and the current Eurozone debt crisis on December 2, 2011 in Berlin, Germany.
Credit: Sean Gallup

European leaders in New Year's Day messages warned of a challenging 2012, with many economists predicting a recession in the year ahead, according to a BBC report.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Europe was experiencing its "most severe test in decades," the BBC reported.

In a TV address, Merkel said that "next year will no doubt be more difficult than 2011".

“The path to overcoming this won’t be without setbacks, but at the end of this path, Europe will emerge stronger from the crisis than before,” Merkel said.

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy, in his televised address, said the economic crisis was not finished.

"I know that the lives of many of you, already tested by two difficult years, have been put to the test once more," he warned, according to Reuters. "You are ending the year more worried about yourselves and your children."

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Italy's president, Giorgio Napolitano, called for more sacrifices to prevent the "financial collapse of Italy".

"Sacrifices are necessary to ensure the future of young people, it's our objective and a commitment we cannot avoid," Napolitano said.

"No one, no social group, can today avoid the commitment to contribute to the clean-up of public finances in order to prevent the financial collapse of Italy," he said in his New Year's speech.

Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos similarly warned of a difficult year ahead. Papademos has led an interim coalition government since the debt crisis forced George Papandreou to resign.

"We have to continue our efforts with determination, so that the sacrifices we have made up to now won't be in vain, so that we prevent this crisis from developing into disorder, so that we can continue to use the euro as our currency, so that we return to the path of development and reduce unemployment," Papademos said, according to a VOA report.

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