Saturday 24 February 2018

Government debt in eurozone drops for first time since 2007

Colm Kelpie and Sarah Stack

IRELAND had the fourth highest government debt in Europe at the end of September last, according to the latest data released by Eurostat.

Government debt in the eurozone fell for the first time since the end of 2007. At the end of the third quarter, the debt-to-GDP average for the euro area was 92.7pc.

This is compared with 93.4pc in the previous quarter.

Ireland's debt level was 124.8pc at the end of September. Debt-riddled Greece had the highest at 171.8pc, followed by Italy at 132.9pc, and Portugal at 128.7pc.

In the Budget, the Government forecast debt levels to fall to 120pc at the end of this year, dropping to 118.4pc at the end of 2015 and falling further to 114.6pc at the end of 2016. It is projected to fall to 93pc by 2020.

The countries with the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio at the end of last September included Estonia at 10pc, Bulgaria at 17.3pc and Luxembourg at 27.7pc.


Europe's three biggest economies saw their debt fall, with Germany down to 78.4pc of its GDP and France at 92.7pc.

Debt in the bloc's third largest economy Italy dropped to 132.9pc from its peak of 133.3pc in the previous quarter, but it remains the eurozone's second highest after Greece.

The level of debt in a majority of eurozone countries remains well above the EU's official limit of 60pc of the value of their economies.

It comes after a new report showed investment in Ireland slumped to the lowest rate across the EU in 2012.

Official figures show that just 10pc of the value of all goods or services made in Ireland were being invested back into the country, tumbling from a 27pc peak six years earlier.

The collapse of the building boom was mostly blamed for the drastic fall to the bottom on the rankings, where Ireland was closely followed by Cyprus, Greece and the UK.

The figures were revealed by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) in an end-of-year report for 2012 when GDP rose slightly by 0.2pc and the public balance deficit was the third highest of any EU member state at just over 8pc of GDP.

Irish Independent

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