& Events

General government expenditure, social protection and health in the EU

Apr 4, 2013 | News

(04 April 2013) – In 2011, EU27 general government expenditure amounted to 49.1 % of GDP. More than half was devoted to social protection and health, according to Eurostat.

General government expenditure amounted to around EUR 6 200 billion in 2011 in the EU27, or 49.1% of GDP. As a ratio to GDP, the highest levels of government expenditure were found in Denmark, France, Finland and Belgium, all with proportions above 53% of GDP. In ten out of the twelve Member States that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007, total general government expenditure remained below or around 46% of GDP. Among the ‘old’ EU Member States, Luxembourg had the lowest proportion at 42.0% of its GDP. Of all the reporting countries, Switzerland had the lowest government expenditure relative to GDP (33.8%).

Social protection is by far the most important in public expenditure and accounted alone for 39.9% of total expenditure or 19.6% of EU GDP in 2011. The highest expenditure on social protection as a percentage of GDP was found in Denmark (25.2%),France (23.9%) and Finland (23.7%). At the other end of the scale were Iceland (11.7%), Slovakia (11.9%), Cyprus (12.0%) and Latvia (12.1%). With the exception of Iceland, the Nordic countries all exhibit a relatively high level.

Health is the second largest function of government spending, at 7.3% of EU GDP in 2011 (14.9% of total government expenditure). Within the EU, government health expenditure ranges from less than 5% of GDP in Cyprus and Romania (both at 3.4%), Latvia (4.1%), Bulgaria (4.6%), Poland (4.7%) and Luxembourg (4.8%) to 8.0% in the UK, 8.3% in France, 8.4% in Denmark and 8.5% in the Netherlands.

Download the study