Europe's stock markets slid on Wednesday on renewed concern about the looming "fiscal cliff" of automatic tax rises and spending cuts which threatens to send the United States back into recession, dealers said.
European bank share prices meanwhile slumped as Spain's nationalised Bankia said it would cut 6,000 jobs, about 28 percent of its staff by 2015, after Brussels cleared a 36-billion-euro ($46-billion) restructuring of the bank.
In Paris, shares in steel group ArcelorMittal were showing a fall of 2.0 percent to 11.24 euros amid a dispute between the group and the French government which is threatening to nationalise part of its French activities.
In afternoon trading, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index dropped 0.52 percent to 5,769.75 points, Frankfurt's DAX 30 fell 0.69 percent to 7,281.41 points and the Paris CAC 40 slid 0.43 percent to 3,487.06.
Madrid's IBEX 35 slid 1.19 percent to 7,770.3 points.
US stocks also opened lower on fiscal cliff concerns, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.44 percent to 12,821.65 points after five minutes of trading.
The S&P 500-stock index dropped 0.56 percent to 1,391.07 points, while the Nasdaq Composite shed 0.52 percent at 2,952.24 points.
European equities had risen on Tuesday as investors cautiously welcomed a bailout deal for Greece which eased worries over a bankruptcy for the indebted eurozone country.
Markets have since run out of steam as fiscal cliff worries overshadowed the Greek debt deal and encouraging US economic data.
Investors ran for cover after the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said "little progress" had been made in cross-party talks on the looming tax hikes and spending cuts due to come in on January 1.
Reid's comments raised the spectre of another long battle between Republicans and Democrats, similar to last year's row over raising the country's borrowing cap, which led to the United States losing its top-level AAA credit rating.
"There has been a lot of uncertainty surrounding the fiscal cliff in recent months, but throughout this time there has always been the feeling that it would be resolved, most probably right at the end of December," said analyst Craig Erlam at trading group Alpari.
"However, a lack of progress so far in negotiations, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has raised doubts over whether an agreement will be reached by 1 January."
In foreign exchange deals on Wednesday, the euro slid to $1.2890 from $1.2938 late in New York on Tuesday, when the European single currency had briefly soared following the Greek deal.
On the London Bullion Market, gold prices dipped to $1,740.84 an ounce from $1,746.25 Tuesday.
In company activity, shares in Bankia were temporarily suspended by regulators after the restructuring announcement -- and after the bank said it intended to return to profit in 2013 following a predicted huge loss of 19 billion euros this year.
They slumped by nearly 3.8 percent to 1.02 euros after trading resumed.
Shares in Spanish rival bank Santander meanwhile erased 1.2 percent to 5.70 euros, French lender Societe Generale lost 1.7 percent to 26.58 euros and Deutsche Bank slumped 1.1 percent to 32.79 euros.
Britain's state-rescued Royal Bank of Scotland shed 1.7 percent to 290.1 pence.
Shares in BP plunged 1.4 percent to 425.05 pence after the US Environmental Protection Agency banned the company from US government contracts due to its behavior in the April 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.
Meanwhile, British travel firm Thomas Cook jumped 3.1 percent to 24.75 pence as an upbeat company outlook offset news of deepening annual losses that were caused by the eurozone crisis, Middle East unrest and high fuel costs.