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UK, Germany have led Europe's recovery: Sorrell

The European recovery has been led by the U.K. and Germany after a "dire" few years, top British businessman Martin Sorrell told CNBC Monday.

The CEO of global advertising giant WPP said he expected Europe's economy to continue to improve over the next few years.

"We've seen certainly an improvement after what has been a pretty dire four or five years post-Lehman, in southern Europe and indeed continental Europe," Sorrell told CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe."

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"The U.K. has led the way, Germany has then followed, then we've seen Spain. We're now seeing Italy and maybe France will pick up eventually as well," he added.

The euro zone economy beat expectations in the fourth quarter of 2014, growing by 0.3 percent on the previous three months, according to official figures released by Eurostat in February. The European Union economy as a whole – which includes the U.K. – expanded by 0.4 percent over the period.

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Germany – sometimes dubbed the euro zone's powerhouse – has led the way in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) since the region's economic crisis. Its GDP expanded by 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter, compared to 0.5 percent growth in the U.K.

Sorrell's comments come ahead of a general election in Britain and the Conservative Party has promised a referendum on U.K. membership of the European Union if it wins – something that is worrying some economists.

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But Sorrell said that the European economy should have picked up by the time of a potential future vote on EU membership.

"If we did have a referendum, my hope would be that by 2017, if not 2016, continental Europe would look a little bit better," he added.