In 2015, over €716 billion of general government expenditure was spent by the Member States on education. This figure is equivalent to almost 5% (4.9%) of the EU's GDP. 'Education' is the fourth largest item of public expenditure, after 'social protection' (19.2%), 'health' (7.2%) and 'general public services’ such as external affairs and public debt transactions (6.2%).
Highest share of expenditure on education in Denmark, Sweden and Belgium
In 2015, the ratio to GDP of government expenditure for education varied by more than one to two across the EU Member States. Overall, 18 of the 28 Member States recorded a ratio of 5% or more.
At the lower end was Romania (3.1%), followed by Ireland (3.7%), Bulgaria and Italy (both 4.0%), Spain (4.1%), Germany and Slovakia (both 4.2%) as well as Greece (4.3%). In contrast, Denmark (7.0%) spent the most in relative terms, ahead of Sweden (6.5%), Belgium (6.4%), Finland (6.2%), Estonia (6.1%), Latvia and Portugal (both 6.0%).
The source dataset can be found here
1400 euros spent on average per EU inhabitant
Expenditure of more than €2500 per inhabitant was registered in Luxembourg (€4685), Denmark (€3368) and Sweden (€2977). At the opposite end of the scale, expenditure stood below €500 per inhabitant in Romania (€248), Bulgaria (€250) and Croatia (€494). On average in 2015, expenditure on 'education' amounted to €1405 per inhabitant in the EU.
You can read more about general government expenditure for 'education' (according to the Classification of the Functions of Government - COFOG) in our online article. An interactive infographic is also available on the Eurostat website.
Please also read our previously published news item on a similar topic:
General government expenditure on defence
General government expenditure on recreation, culture and religion
General government expenditure on public order and safety
General government expenditure on health