General government expenditure by function in the EU in 2019 (Eurostat)
In 2019, total government expenditure in the EU amounted to 46.6% of gross domestic product (GDP), according to the last figures released by Eurosta.
This share remained unchanged from the previous year, however it has steadily decreased from its latest peak in 2009 (50.7% of GDP).
Among the main functions of general government expenditure in the EU, ‘social protection’ was by far the most important in 2019, equivalent to 19.3% of GDP.
The next most important areas were ‘health’ (7.0%), ‘general public services’ (5.8%) such as external affairs and public debt transactions, ‘education’ (4.7%) and ‘economic affairs’ (4.4%).
The functions ‘public order and safety’ (1.7%), ‘defence’ and ‘recreation, culture and religion’ (both 1.2%), ‘environmental protection’ (0.8%) and ‘housing and community amenities’ (0.6%) had more limited weights.
This information comes from recently published data on general government expenditure. The article presents only a handful of findings from the more detailed set of Statistics Explained articles.
Social protection represented the most important area of general government expenditure in 2019 in all EU Member States.
The ratio of government social protection expenditure to GDP varied across EU Member States from less than 10% in Ireland (8.9%) to nearly a quarter in Finland (24.0%) and France (23.9%).
Five EU Member States – Finland, France, Denmark, Italy and Austria – devoted at least 20% of GDP to social protection, while Ireland, Malta, Bulgaria and Romania each spent less than 12% of GDP on social protection.