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Deficits increase in eurozone and EU

By Eric van Puyvelde | Monday 15 November 2010

The EU’s statistics body Eurostat revised the public finance deficit and debt figures for Greece following an excessive deficit procedure methodological mission in Athens between 11 October and 9 November. The findings were published on 15 November and put Greece’s 2009 government deficit at 15.4% of gross domestic product (GDP) and government debt at 126.8% of GDP, an increase on the figures reported during the April 2010 methodological mission, which were 13.6% of GDP and 115.1% of GDP, respectively.

In presenting its estimates on the deficits across the EU27, Eurostat stated that, apart from in the case of Greece, the information concerning all other member states was unchanged from that published on 22 October (see Europolitics 4070) except the UK’s statistics, which were also slightly amended.

In 2009, the largest government deficits in percentage of GDP were recorded in Greece (-15.4%), Ireland (-14.4%), the United Kingdom (-11.4%), Spain (-11.1%), Latvia (-10.2%), Portugal (-9.3%), Lithuania (-9.2%), Romania (-8.6%), Slovakia (-7.9%), France (-7.5%) and Poland (-7.2%). No member state registered a government surplus in 2009. The lowest deficits were recorded in Luxembourg (-0.7%), Sweden (-0.9%) and Estonia (-1.7%). In all, 25 member states recorded a deterioration in their government deficit relative to GDP in 2009 compared with 2008, and two (Estonia and Malta) an improvement.

In 2009, the government deficit and government debt of both the eurozone and the EU27 increased compared with 2008, while GDP fell. In the eurozone, the government deficit to GDP ratio increased from 2% in 20083 to 6.3% in 2009, and in the EU27 from 2.3% to 6.8%. In the eurozone, the government debt to GDP ratio increased from 69.8% at the end of 2008 to 79.2% at the end of 2009, and in the EU27 from 61.8% to 74%.

At the end of 2009, the lowest ratios of government debt to GDP were recorded in Estonia (7.2%), Luxembourg (14.5%), Bulgaria (14.7%), Romania (23.9%) and Lithuania (29.5%). Twelve member states had government debt ratios higher than 60% of GDP in 2009: Greece (126.8%), Italy (116%), Belgium (96.2%), Hungary (78.4%), France (78.1%), Portugal (76.1%), Germany (73.4%), Malta (68.6%), the United Kingdom (68.2%), Austria (67.5%), Ireland (65.5%) and the Netherlands (60.8%).

In 2009, government expenditure in the eurozone was 50.8% of GDP and government revenue 44.5%. The figures for the EU27 were 50.8% and 44%, respectively. In both zones, the government expenditure ratio increased between 2008 and 2009, while the government revenue ratio decreased.

Eurostat publishes supplementary tables for the financial crisis on its website, at, which contain data on the net revenue/cost for general government (impact on ESA95 government deficit) and outstanding amounts of assets, actual liabilities and contingent liabilities of government in the context of the financial crisis for the years 2007 to 2009.

A table is available at > Search = 282542

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