Euro zone government debt fell for the first time in nearly six years in the third quarter, data showed today, adding to signs the bloc was turning the corner on the sovereign debt crisis.
Debt in the euro zone countries stood at €8.842 trillion in the three months to September, or 92.7% of the bloc’s GDP, compared with €8.875 trillion, or 93.4%, in the previous quarter.
The European Union’s statistics office Eurostat said it was the first decline, in absolute terms, since the fourth quarter of 2007.
Nearly 86% of the overall debt comes from securities other than shares, such as bonds and treasury bills, followed by loans, currency and deposits as well as intergovernmental lending related to the financial crisis.
The level of debt in a majority of euro zone countries, however, remains well above the European Union’s official limit of 60% of the economic output.
Europe’s two biggest economies saw its debt fall, with Germany down to 78.4% of its GDP and France down to 92.7%.
The countries with the worst debt levels at the end of the third quarter were twice-bailed out Greece on 171.8% and Italy on 132.9%. Portugal and Ireland, who also had to be rescued, were on 128.7% and 124.8% respectively.
Estonia boasted the lowest level of growth at just 10%.
In the 28-member European Union, third quarter 2013 public debt edged up to 86.8% from 86.7%.