Eurozone government debt levels reached the highest level on record last year, the region's official statistics office said, even as austerity measures around the single currency area narrowed budget deficits levels amid a deepening recession.
Government debt as a percentage of the eurozone economy 3.3 percentage points to 90.6 percent at the end of last year, Eurostat said Monday in a statement published on its website. At the same time the collective budget deficit of the 17 countries that use the single currency fell to 3.7 percent of Eurozone GDP from 4.2 percent the previous year, Eurostat said. Around the 27-memeber European Union, which includes Great Britain, the figures fall to 85.3 percent and 4 percent respectively.
Britain's debt was measured at 90 percent of GDP, according to Eurostat, one of only seven members of the European Union to breach the 90 percent threshold. Its annual deficit was pegged at 6.3 percent of GDP, equal to that of Cyprus and larger than any eurozone economy outside rescued Ireland, Portugal and Spain.
Spain recorded the largest eurozone budget deficit of 10.6 percent of GDP, Eurostat said, wider than the 9.4 percent recorded in 2011 while Italy had the second lowest - behind Germany's 0.2 percent - at 3 percent of GDP. Italy's overall debt load, however, did rise to 127 percent of GDP, according to Eurostat, the second largest in the single currency area behind Greece's 156.9 percent.
France's deficit fell to 4.8 percent of GDP from 5.3 percent the previous year, according to the Eurostat figures, and higher than the 4.5 percent target of Francois Hollande's government.