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At the end of the first quarter of 2020, the quarter in which COVID-19 containment measures began to be widely introduced by Member States, the government debt to GDP ratio in the euro area stood at 86.3%, compared with 84.1% at the end of the fourth quarter of 2019.

In the EU, the ratio increased from 77.7% to 79.5%. Compared with the first quarter 2019, the government debt to GDP ratio fell in both the euro area (from 86.4% to 86.3%) and the EU (from 80.0% to 79.5%). The impacts of the containment measures as well as policy responses to the containment measures are expected to materialise fully in increased financing needs only in the second quarter of 2020. At the end of the first quarter of 2020, debt securities accounted for 80.9% of euro area and for 80.6% of EU general government debt. Loans made up 15.5% and 15.9% respectively and currency and deposits represented 3.5% of euro area and 3.4% of EU 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 as percentage of GDP at the end of the first quarter of 2020 amounted to 1.9% in the euro area and to 1.6% in the EU.

These data are released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

Government debt at the end of the first quarter 2020 by Member State.    The highest ratios of government debt to GDP at the end of the first quarter of 2020 were recorded in Greece (176.7%), Italy (137.6%), Portugal (120.0%), Belgium (104.4%) and France (101.2%) and the lowest in Estonia (8.9%), Bulgaria (20.3%) and Luxembourg (22.3%).

Compared with the fourth quarter of 2019, 24 Member States registered an increase in their debt to GDP ratio at the end of the first quarter of 2020 and three a decrease. The largest increases in the ratio were observed in Belgium (+5.7 percentage points – pp), Finland (+4.9 pp), Slovenia (+3.5 pp), Spain (+3.4 pp) and France (+3.1 pp). The largest decrease was recorded in Lithuania (-3.0 pp).

Compared with the first quarter 2019, ten Member States registered an increase in their debt to GDP ratio at the end of the first quarter of 2020 and sixteen a decrease, while in Slovakia the ratio remained stable. The largest increases in the ratio were recorded in Finland (+4.7 pp) and Romania (+3.6 pp), while the largest decreases were recorded in Ireland (-5.6 pp), Cyprus and Greece (both -5.3 pp) as well as Portugal (-3.4 pp).