The pan-region STOXX 600 index fell 0.2 percent, further distancing itself from a near eight-month peak hit last week.
"In light of the strong rally and the multi-month highs that were achieved in European indices recently, some investors are now taking a breather," David Madden, a market analyst at CMC Markets UK, wrote in a note.
Bank stocks dropped 0.4 percent, with German lender Commerzbank among the top losers on the sector index with a 2.4 percent fall. Deutsche Bank, with whom Commerzbank is exploring a merger, dropped 1.9 percent.
European bank supervisors demanded a detailed roadmap outlining the pace and scale of staff cuts in the two banks as they explore a merger, according to a report by German daily Handelsblatt.
France's Safran SA slid 2 percent as Boeing Co revealed a plan to cut 737 aircraft production by nearly a fifth.
Safran's joint venture with General Electric Co provides Boeing with engines for the 737.
Melrose Industries , another supplier to Boeing, slid 2 percent, while Meggitt recouped early losses to end 0.2 percent higher.
Boeing's French rival Airbus rose 1.7 percent.
Real estate stocks fell 1.3 percent with Deutsche Wohnen dropping 3.1 percent following protests over the weekend demanding expropriation of apartments in Berlin that have been sold off to big private landlords.
The protests prompted a spokesman for the German government to say Chancellor Angela Merkel does not think "expropriating apartments is the right answer".
Germany's DAX index fell 0.4 percent, snapping a seven-day winning streak. Data showed German exports and imports fell more than expected in February, the latest sign that Europe's biggest economy will probably post meagre growth in the first quarter.
Software firm SAP dropped as much as 2.2 percent after it said the head of its cloud business group had quit, but regained some ground to close 0.6 percent lower.
Continental AG slipped 1.1 percent after Kepler Cheuvreux downgraded the auto parts maker to "hold" from "buy".
Auto stocks gave up a fraction of the ground they gained during a 6.9 percent jump over the course of last week as they edged lower.
Daimler ended little changed. The German auto giant had been weighed down by the prospect of potentially hefty fines after EU antitrust regulators charged the firm along with Volkswagen and BMW with colluding to block the rollout of clean emissions technology.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA) gained 1.9 percent after agreeing to pay electric carmaker Tesla Inc hundreds of millions of euros to allow Tesla vehicles to be counted in its fleet to avoid fines for violating new EU emission rules.
Irish stocks, which are especially sensitive to the fallout of a potential hard Brexit, shed 1.4 percent as they fell from a near six-month closing high clocked on Friday.
Britain's government has been in contact with the main opposition Labour Party and hopes there will be more talks later on Monday to find a compromise over a Brexit deal, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Theresa May said.
Oil and gas stocks were a rare spot of optimism on the day, their 0.9 percent rise was supported by oil prices hitting a five-month peak. [O/R]
(Reporting by Aaron Saldanha with additional reporting by Susan Mathew and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
By Aaron Saldanha