National debt in the EU member states
National or government debt is the debt owed by a central government. No country in the European Union is debt-free, although some are able to manage their debts better than others. Debt is influenced by the economic situation of a country, factors such as unemployment, the rate of inflation or the trade figures have a significant impact on its extent, and are, in turn, influenced by the national debt.
The economic crisis has hit some EU countries harder than others; Spain, Ireland and Greece especially have been struggling economically since 2008. Greece’s national debt has skyrocketed over the past few years, and the same can be said about Spain and Ireland. Other EU countries, like France and the United Kingdom have been affected as well, albeit not as severely.
The national debt of a country can be reduced by applying several measures: money can be borrowed (for example in the form of rescue packages), austerity programs can be enforced, taxes can be increased or central banks can inject liquidity into the economy through the implementation of quantitative easing policies. Some critics of the policy claim that this could lead to a higher level of inflation, which, if severe enough, could have a detrimental impact on living standards.