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At the end of the fourth quarter of 2018, the government debt to GDP ratio in the euro area (EA19) stood at 85.1%, compared with 86.4% at the end of the third quarter of 2018. In the EU28, the ratio decreased from 81.0% to 80.0%. Compared with the fourth quarter of 2017, the

government debt to GDP ratio fell in both the euro area (from 87.1% to 85.1%) and the EU28 (from 81.7% to 80.0%). At the end of the fourth quarter of 2018, debt securities accounted for 80.9% of euro area and for 81.6% of EU28 general government debt. Loans made up 16.0% and 14.2% respectively and currency and deposits represented 3.1% of euro area and 4.1% of EU28 government debt. Due to the involvement of EU Member States' governments in financial assistance to certain Member States, quarterly data on intergovernmental lending (IGL) is also published. The share of IGL in GDP at the end of the fourth quarter of 2018 amounted to 2.0% in the euro area and to 1.5% in the EU28. These data are released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

Government debt at the end of the fourth quarter 2018 by Member State.   The highest ratios of government debt to GDP at the end of the fourth quarter of 2018 were recorded in Greece (181.1%), Italy (132.2%), Portugal (121.5%), Cyprus (102.5%) and Belgium (102.0%), and the lowest in Estonia (8.4%), Luxembourg (21.4%) and Bulgaria (22.6%).

Compared with the third quarter of 2018, four Member States registered an increase in their debt to GDP ratio at the end of the fourth quarter of 2018, twenty-three a decrease and the ratio remained stable in Malta. The increases in the ratio were recorded in Romania (+0.8 percentage points – pp), the United Kingdom and Sweden (both +0.6 pp) as well as Finland (+0.1 pp). The largest decreases were recorded in Cyprus (-7.6 pp), Ireland (-4.0 pp), Portugal and Belgium (both -3.3 pp).

Compared with the fourth quarter of 2017, three Member States registered an increase in their debt to GDP ratio at the end of the fourth quarter of 2018, twenty-four a decrease and France recorded no change. An increase in the ratio was recorded in Cyprus (+6.8 pp), Greece (+5.0 pp) and Italy (+0.8 pp), while the largest decreases were recorded in Lithuania (-5.2 pp), the Netherlands (-4.5 pp), Austria (-4.4 pp), Malta (-4.2 pp) and Latvia (-4.0 pp).