General government expenditure by function in the EU in 2019 - Products Eurostat News

null General government expenditure by function in the EU in 2019


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In 2019, total government expenditure in the EU amounted to 46.6% of gross domestic product (GDP). This share remained unchanged from the previous year, however it has steadily decreased from its latest peak in 2009 (50.7% of GDP).

Among the main functions of general government expenditure in the EU, ‘social protection’ was by far the most important in 2019, equivalent to 19.3% of GDP. The next most important areas were ‘health’ (7.0%), ‘general public services’ (5.8%) such as external affairs and public debt transactions, ‘education’ (4.7%) and ‘economic affairs’ (4.4%). The functions ‘public order and safety’ (1.7%), ‘defence’ and ‘recreation, culture and religion’ (both 1.2%), ‘environmental protection’ (0.8%) and ‘housing and community amenities’ (0.6%) had more limited weights.

This information comes from recently published data on general government expenditure. The article presents only a handful of findings from the more detailed set of Statistics Explained articles.


General government expenditure by function, 2019

Source dataset: gov_10a_exp


Share of social protection expenditure highest in Finland and France, lowest in Ireland

Social protection represented the most important area of general government expenditure in 2019 in all EU Member States. The ratio of government social protection expenditure to GDP varied across EU Member States from less than 10% in Ireland (8.9%) to nearly a quarter in Finland (24.0%) and France (23.9%).

Five EU Member States – Finland, France, Denmark, Italy and Austria – devoted at least 20% of GDP to social protection, while Ireland, Malta, Bulgaria and Romania each spent less than 12% of GDP on social protection.


Social protection expenditure in 2019

Source dataset: gov_10a_exp


Government expenditure on health highest in Austria, on education highest in Sweden

In 2019, Austria (8.3%), Denmark (8.2%) and France (8.0%) recorded the highest ratios to GDP devoted to health among EU Member States. The highest ratios to GDP of government expenditure on general public services were observed in Hungary (8.2%), Greece and Finland (both 7.9%). 

For education, the highest shares were registered in Sweden (6.9%), Denmark (6.3%), Belgium (6.2%) and Estonia (6.0%). The highest share of government expenditure on economic affairs in 2019 was recorded in Croatia (8.2% of GDP) and Hungary (8.0%).


For more information:

  • Eurostat set of Statistics Explained articles on government expenditure by function
  • Eurostat interactive infographic on government expenditure by function
  • Eurostat database on government finance
  • Eurostat metadata on general government expenditure by function
  • This article shows the situation before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and therefore does not show the impact of government measures taken in response.


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