General government expenditure by function in 2020 – Products Eurostat News

In 2020, total government expenditure in the EU represented 53.1% of gross domestic product (GDP). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and government measures to mitigate its effects, this ratio increased sharply compared to the previous year (46.5%) due to the decline in GDP, as well as the increase total expenditure (€7,118 in 2020 compared to €6,521 billion in 2019, an increase of €598 billion, or 9.2% compared to 2019).

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

The highest proportion of public spending goes to social protection and health

Source dataset: gov_10a_exp

Among the main functions of general government expenditure in the EU, ‘social protection’ remained by far the most important in 2020, equivalent to 22.0% of GDP. This is followed by “health” (8.0%), “general public services” (6.2%) such as external affairs and public debt operations, “economic affairs” (6.1%) and “education” (5.0%). The functions ‘public order and security’ (1.8%), ‘defense’ (1.3%), ‘leisure, culture and religion’ (1.2%), ‘environmental protection’ (0.9 %) and ‘housing and community facilities’ (0.6%) had more limited weights.

Large increases in social protection, economic affairs and health driven by the COVID-19 pandemic

At EU level, total general government expenditure increased for all major functions, but the increases were concentrated in “social protection” (+€238 billion, of which +€118 billion for “unemployment”), “economic affairs” (+ 206 billion) and “health” (+95 billion euros).

Bar chart: evolution of general government expenditure by function in the EU, 2019 and 2020

Source dataset: gov_10a_exp

Highest social protection expenditure ratio in France and Finland, lowest in Ireland

“Social protection” was the largest area of ​​general government expenditure in 2020 in all EU Member States. Public expenditure on social protection as a percentage of GDP ranged from one EU Member State at 10.2% in Ireland, 12.0% in Malta and 13.1% in Bulgaria, to over a quarter in France (27.3%), Finland (25.7%) and Italy (25.2%). ).

Public health spending is highest in Czechia and Austria, education spending is highest in Sweden, economic affairs is highest in Croatia

In 2020, Czechia and Austria (9.2% each) and France (9.0%) recorded the highest public expenditure to GDP ratios spent on health among EU Member States.

The highest public expenditure to GDP ratios for general public services were observed in Italy (8.7%), Greece and Finland (8.4% each).

The highest share of public expenditure devoted to economic affairs in 2020 was recorded in Croatia (11.3%), ahead of Malta (10.0%).

For education, the highest shares were recorded in Sweden (7.2%).

For more information:

Methodological note:

  • While a major effort has been undertaken to harmonize the recording of government measures aimed at mitigating the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a full harmonization of data for the reference year 2020 has not yet been carried out. The probability of future revisions is therefore higher than usual and the data is provisional.
  • Data on administrative expenditure is also collected in so-called satellite accounts. In general, the amount of expenditure recorded in the satellite accounts should exceed the expenditure recorded in the corresponding COFOG division. More details on the comparability of COFOG data with satellite accounts data can be found in the COFOG Manual. Defense expenditure data cannot be easily compared to NATO defense expenditure measures.

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