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Figures for 2014 from the EU’s statistical arm Eurostat show that EU goverrnments’ financial deficit fell from 3.2% in 2013 to 2.9% as a percentage of the whole economy (GDP), countries using the euro saw a fall from 2.9% to 2.4%. This measurement, defined as the difference between current government spending on goods and services and total current revenue from all types of taxes, is often expressed on an annual basis. If revenue exceeds spending there is a government surplus. In 2014 this was the case in only four of the 28 EU countries: Denmark (+1.2%), Germany (+0.7%), Estonia and Luxembourg (+0.6% each). Cyprus (-8.8%) and Spain (-5.8%) had the highest deficits followed by Croatia and the United Kingdom (both -5.7%).
A government deficit is not to be confused with government or national debt; this is the total amount that is owed by a country’s central administration. This figure continued its rise in the EU in 2014, from 85.5% to 86.8% of GDP in the EU as a whole and from 90.9% to 91.9% in the euro currency area. The worst offenders were Greece (177.1%), Italy (132.1%) and Portugal (130.2%) while Estonia (10.6%), Luxembourg (23.6%) and Bulgaria (27.6%) recorded the smallest national debts.
|General government deficit (-) and surplus (+)- % of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)||General government gross debt - % of GDP - 2014|