National debt in EU countries in relation to gross domestic product (GDP) 2019

In the third quarter of 2019, Greece's national debt was the highest in all of the European Union, amounting to 178.2 percent of Greece's gross domestic product, or about 369 billion U.S. dollars.

In debitum incrementum?

A country’s national debt, also known as government debt or public debt, is defined as all borrowings owed by the government of a country. It usually comprises internal debt – owed to other governmental departments – and external debt, which is held by the public and is owed to government bond owners. National debt can be caused by a struggling economy in general, or by low tax income, which usually leads to money being borrowed from other governments for support, which in turn cannot be paid back right away. At first glance, a high national debt is not always a sign of a struggling economy – but since increasing debt can slow down economic growth significantly, it is imperative for the respective government to seek a steady reduction in the long run.

The biggest IOU

Greece has been in the red for years now, and ever since it was the poster child for the financial crisis in 2008/2009, the country has been struggling to pay back its creditors. It was granted a rescue package by the IMF and loans by several major European banks. But even ten years later, Greece still struggles to keep its national debt under control, which surpassed its GDP and still has not recovered – on the contrary, it has increased again over the last few years.

National debt in EU countries in the 3rd quarter 2019 in relation to gross domestic product

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Release date

January 2020



Survey time period

3rd quarter 2019

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