IRELAND HAS COME OUT on top of an EU table for government deficit in 2010 with a deficit of 32.4 per cent of GDP, according to Eurostat.
Greece came in second with a 10.5 per cent deficit, the UK had 10.4 per cent, and Spain and Portugal recorded 9.2 per cent and 9.1 per cent respectively.
At the other end of the scale for the lowest ratio of government debt to GDP is Estonia, with a 6.6 per cent deficit, and Bulgaria with 16.2 per cent.
Government expenditure in the euro area was equivalent to 50.4 per cent of GDP, Eurostat says, while government revenue was 44.4 per cent. The figures for the 27 EU member states were 50.3 per cent for expenditure and 44 per cent for government revnue.
Ireland is also one of the 14 EU members which had a government debt ratio above 60 per cent of GDP.
Overall, 21 member states showed an improvement in their government balance, but only Sweden was in balance for 2010 and Belgium recorded a surplus of 0.1 per cent.
Eurostat included a note in its report expressing reservations on the quality of data provided by both Romania and the UK, saying that the latter does not record its military expenditure on a delivery basis as per Eurostat’s methods. It has also amended the deficit data for the UK from 2007 to 2010, raising the level of deficit in 2007 and 2008.
Department of Finance projections for the Irish economy back in early December predicted Ireland would have the highest deficit in the eurozone for the year, but said it would be 32 per cent.