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Tuesday, June 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

EU debt hits 13.8 trillion euros

While the overall European Union debt increased last year, both the ratio of GDP to debt and the government deficit decreased slightly.

(CN) — The European Union owed 13.8 trillion euros ($15 trillion) entering the final quarter of last year, a debt roughly 82% of reported gross domestic product, according to data published by Eurostat on Monday. Though the overall debt amount increased, the ratio of debt to GDP decreased 2 percentage points between the third quarters of 2022 and 2023.

At 165%, Greece reported the highest ratio of debt to GDP in the EU, followed by Italy. France, Spain, Belgium and Portugal also reported debts greater than their national GDP. At the same time, Greece decreased its debt-to-GDP ratio by nearly 2 percentage points, as did Italy.

By comparison, the U.S. reported a national debt of $34 trillion (31 trillion euros) during the third quarter of 2023, roughly 123% of the nation's GDP and an increase from the previous quarter.

Estonia reported the lowest debt in the EU, at 18% of its GDP, followed by Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Sweden and Denmark.

Comparing year-over-year changes, Belgium reported the highest increase in debt compared to GDP, followed by Latvia and Slovenia, which were all above 1 percentage point.

The eurozone, which includes 20 EU nations using the euro as currency, reported a higher debt ratio of 90% compared to the EU as a whole. The eurozone also reported a parallel 2 percentage point decrease in debt ratio compared to the same period last year.

The bulk of the EU government debt includes debt securities, followed by loans and deposits. Roughly 1% of the amounts owed are attributed to intergovernmental lending.

During 2023, the EU reported slight decreases in government deficit — the difference between revenues generated and amounts spent. During the third quarter of 2023, the EU generated 46.5 billion euros ($51 billion) and spent 48.8 billion euros ($52 billion), amounting to a 2.8% deficit and a 0.2 percentage point decrease compared to the prior quarter.

The Covid-19 pandemic drove an enormous increase in the EU's deficit beginning in 2020, which finally leveled out during the second quarter of 2022. The third quarter of 2022 then brought another deficit increase driven by measures passed to stanch the economic impacts of high energy prices, ultimately culminating in a near-5% deficit at the close of 2022.

Comparing the third quarter of 2023 with that pivotal third quarter of 2022, the deficit decreased a full percentage point, corresponding to decreases in both revenue and spending.

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Categories / Economy, Government, International

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