14 Jul 2015

5.5% of all European Government Revenue goes to pay interest charges

Jim Crawford asked me for a Table with Interest Payments as a percentage of tax revenues for European Union countries. Here are the numbers, using figures from the Eurostat Database :

As you can see, the €356 billion paid out last year in interest payments on Public sector debt amounts to 5.5% of total government revenue. But the slice of taxpayers money going to pay those interest payments varies enormously between different countries. The Irish are top of the list with 11.6% of their tax revenue going to pay interest charges, followed by Portugal, Italy, Spain, Hungary and Greece. Even the UK manages to hand over 7.1% of its revenue in interest payments.

France and Germany are actually quite a long way down the list, but it is the Scandinavian countries who get off the most lightly, with Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Estonia all near the bottom. The notable exception is Luxembourg, who only uses 0.8% of its revenue to pay interest charges.

Overall, this distribution can explain why some countries seem perfectly happy to see countries like Greece forced by creditors to impose draconian austerity.

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