Greece's fiscal deficit in 2010 was revised upwards to 10.5 percent of GDP, overshooting initial forecasts of 9.4 percent, although down substantially from 15.6 percent in 2009, while the government debt rose to 142.8 percent of GDP from 127.1 percent of GDP in 2009, according to figures released by Eurostat on Tuesday in Brussels.
The Greek deficit figure was revised upwards from initial forecasts of 9.4 percent of GDP contained in the prologue to the 2011 state budget.
In absolute numbers, the fiscal (government) deficit reached 24.1 billion euros in 2010 from 36.3 billion euros in 2009, while Greece's GDP fell to 39.1 billion euros in 2010 from 37.3 billion euros in 2009, and government expenditure declined to 49.5 billion in 2010 from 52.9 billion euros in 2009.
The Greek government debt rose to 328 billion euros in 2010 from 298.7 billion euros in 2009. Greece posted the second highest fiscal deficit in the EU after Ireland (32.4 percent of GDP) and the highest government debt among the EU 27.
In its announcement, the EU executive's statistics service posed no reservations on the quality of data reported by Greece, but did express reservations on the data from the UK and Romania.
Along general lines, in 2010, the government deficit of both the euro area (EA17) and the EU27 decreased compared with 2009, while the government debt and GDP increased. In the euro area the government deficit to GDP ratio decreased from 6.3% in 20093 to 6.0% in 2010, and in the EU27 from 6.8% to 6.4%. In the euro area the government debt to GDP ratio increased from 79.3% at the end of 2009 to 85.1% at the end of 2010, and in the EU27 from 74.4% to 80.0%.
In 2010 the largest government deficits in percentage of GDP were recorded in Ireland (-32.4%), Greece (-10.5%), the United Kingdom (-10.4%), Spain (-9.2%), Portugal (-9.1%), Poland (-7.9%), Slovakia (-7.9%), Latvia (-7.7%), Lithuania (-7.1%) and France (-7.0%). The lowest deficits were recorded in Luxembourg (-1.7%), Finland (-2.5%) and Denmark (-2.7%). Estonia (0.1%) registered a slight government surplus in 2010 and Sweden (0.0%) was in balance. In all, 21 Member States recorded an improvement in their government balance relative to GDP in 2010 compared with 2009 and six a worsening.
At the end of 2010, the lowest ratios of government debt to GDP were recorded in Estonia (6.6%), Bulgaria (16.2%), Luxembourg (18.4%), Romania (30.8%), Slovenia (38.0%), Lithuania (38.2%), the Czech Republic (38.5%) and Sweden (39.8%). Fourteen Member States had government debt ratios higher than 60% of GDP in 2010: Greece (142.8%), Italy (119.0%), Belgium (96.8%), Ireland (96.2%), Portugal (93.0%), Germany (83.2%), France (81.7%), Hungary (80.2%), the United Kingdom (80.0%), Austria (72.3%), Malta (68.0%), the Netherlands (62.7%), Cyprus (60.8%) and Spain (60.1%).