Eurozone Deficit Falls, but Still Short of Mandated Level

Posted April 23rd, 2012 at 1:20 pm (UTC-5)
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The 17 European nations that use the euro slashed their government deficits last year by imposing a host of austerity measures, but collectively still not enough to reach the level mandated by the European Union.

In all, the EU statistics office said Monday that the currency bloc cut its deficit spending to 4.1 percent of the region's economic production for the year, down from a deficit of 6.2 percent in 2010. But of the 17 eurozone nations, only six reached the 3 percent deficit level mandated for each country by the EU.

European economic powerhouse Germany was among the countries reaching a low deficit level, or in the case of Estonia, a surplus. The four other countries that met the EU target were Austria, Finland, Malta and Luxembourg.

Three debt-ridden countries — Ireland, Greece and Spain — recorded the worst deficits, with the Dublin government topping the list at 13.1 percent.

Even as the eurozone's deficit fell, its overall debt edged higher in relationship to the region's economic production. It climbed from more than 85 percent of the currency bloc's economy in 2010 to more than 87 percent last year.

The region's debt is substantially above the EU-mandated 60 percent level and the highest since the euro was introduced in 1999.