The government debt to GDP ratios in the EU and the euro area decreased in the first quarter of 2022 thanks to the continuing recovery of the economy from the COVID crisis, and Croatia is again among the countries with the largest decreases, according to a report released by Eurostat on Thursday.
In the EU, the government debt to GDP ratio stood at 87.8 percent at the end of March 2022. At the end of December 2021, it was 88.1 percent.
In the euro area, it was 95.6 percent, decreasing by 0.1 percentage point compared to the fourth quarter of 2021.
In the first three months of 2021, the ratio it was 92.3 percent in the EU, and equal to GDP in the euro area.
The lower debt expressed as a share of GDP, both in relation to the previous three months and in relation to the same period last year, reflects the recovery of economic activities in both areas, according to the report.
The highest ratios of government debt to GDP at the end of the first quarter of 2022 were recorded in Greece (189.3 percent), Italy (152.6 percent), Portugal (127.0 percent), Spain (117.7 percent), France (114.4 percent), Belgium (107.9 percent) and Cyprus (104.9 percent).
In Croatia, consolidated general government debt amounted to 342.5 billion kuna at the end of March, which was 77.3 percent of GDP. At the end of December 2021, it was 343.6 billion kuna, or 79.8 percent of GDP.
At the end of March 2021, it amounted to 340.9 billion kuna, which corresponded to 90.1 percent of GDP.
The lowest debt to GDP ratios were registered in Estonia (17.6 percent), Luxembourg (22.3 percent) and Bulgaria (22.9 percent).
Biggest drop in Greece and Lithuania
At the end of the first quarter, public debt expressed as a share of GDP was lower in 19 EU countries compared to the previous three months, and it decreased the most in Greece and Lithuania, by four percentage points.
They were followed by Denmark, with a decrease of 3.7 percentage points.
Croatia recorded a decrease in public debt expressed as a share of GDP by 2.5 percentage points compared to the previous quarter.
Ireland and Bulgaria are also close, with a drop of 2.2 percentage points.
In Germany, the largest economy, public debt expressed as a share of GDP decreased by 1.1 percentage points.
A higher public debt to GDP ratio was recorded by eight countries, led by the second and third largest economies, France and Italy, by 1.9 and 1.8 percentage points, respectively, compared to the previous quarter.
It also grew in Cyprus and Malta, as well as in Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia.
Croatia among the three countries with the biggest declines
In 24 EU countries, the public debt to GDP ratio was lower at the end of March year on year.
Compared to the first quarter of 2021, it decreased the most in Greece and Cyprus, by 20 and 16.1 percentage points, respectively.
They are followed by Croatia, whose public debt to GDP ratio in the first quarter of this year was 12.8 percentage points lower year on year.
A similar decline was recorded by Portugal, by 12 percentage points, and the group of countries with the most significant declines includes Slovenia, Belgium, Denmark, Spain and Ireland.
Higher public debt to GDP ratios compared to the first quarter of last year were recorded only in Slovakia, Romania and Malta.