The highest government debt to GDP ratios in the Eurozone were recorded in Greece (168.8%), Italy (135.1%) and Portugal (129.6%), according to a recent Eurostat news release for the first quarter of 2015. However, the Greek government debt also recorded the highest decrease compared to the first quarter of 2014, dropping by 5.5%.
Overall, during the first quarter of 2015, the government debt to GDP ratio in the euro area stood at 92.9%, a slight increase compared to 92.0% at the end of the fourth quarter of 2014 and 91.9% in the first quarter of 2014. Furthermore, the EU government debt to GDP ratio also showed a similar increase from 86.2% in the first quarter of 2014 to 88.2% during the same period this year.
The largest increase occurred in Bulgaria (+10%). Under EU rules, public debt must not exceed 60% of GDP.
The Greek debt is by far the highest, although it dropped to 168.8% in the first quarter of 2015 from 177.1% in the last quarter of 2014, recording the largest decrease among the Eurozone member-states.
According to the Wall Street Journal, even though this fall appears encouraging, it largely reflects “the return to the Eurozone of funds intended for bank recapitalizations as relations between the Greek government and other members of the currency area soured.”
In contrast, the largest increase in public debt within the Eurozone was recorded in Italy, amounting to 135.1% from 132.1%, followed by France at 97.5% from 95,6%.
Germany, Cyprus and Portugal were also included in the list of countries whose government debt to GDP ratio decreased.