The budget deficit in Belgium grew faster than the euro area average in the first quarter. This is shown by figures from the European statistical authority Eurostat.
Across the euro area, it rose to 2.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) from a deficit of 0.7 percent of GDP in the fourth quarter of 2019. This is the highest level since the second quarter of 2015. The Belgian budget deficit rose to 6% compared to 1.5% in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Eurostat also writes that public expenditure in the euro area countries as a percentage of GDP rose to 49.2% in the first quarter, from 47.1% in the previous quarter. Sales rose from 46.4 percent of GDP to 47 percent.
The Office for National Statistics also reported that public debt in the euro area averaged 86.3% of euro area GDP in the first quarter. That was 84.1 percent at the end of last year.
Belgium’s public debt is also rising faster than the euro area average. Compared to the fourth quarter of 2019, the government debt ratio increased by 5.7 percent, the largest increase in the euro area. Belgium’s national debt stood at 104.4 percent at the end of the first quarter. After Greece (176.7 percent), Italy (137.6 percent) and Portugal (120 percent), our country ranked fourth among the countries with the highest rate.
Eurostat expects debt to rise sharply in the second quarter, as countries borrowed many billions to withstand the Corona crisis as the economy shrinks. European budgetary rules require debt of up to 60% of GDP and a government deficit of up to 3%, but because of the crisis, Brussels is abandoning these criteria for the time being.