November 16th, 2010
09:55 AM GMT
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(CNN) – As Eurozone ministers meet to discuss the debt problems of Ireland and Portugal and whether those nations need will need a bailout to shore up their finances.

If they do, they will be following in the footsteps of Greece, which was thrown a $146 billion (110 billion euro) lifeline earlier this year. But that came with conditions.

Greece is expected to bring its budget deficit down to the EU limit of 3 percent of GDP by 2014. But Greece is far from the only euro country with big deficits and high debt. Far from it.

A new report by the European Commission’s statistical bureau, Eurostat, showed Greece had the largest government deficit as a percent of GDP: 15.4 percent of GDP.

Where do the rest stack up? Here’s the rest of the top 10 European nations with the worst deficits in 2009:

* Ireland –14.4 percent

* UK – 11.4 percent

* Spain – 11.1 percent

* Latvia – 10.2 percent

* Portugal – 9.3 percent

* Lithuania – 9.2 percent

* Romania – 8.6 percent

* Slovakia – 7.9 percent

* France – 7.5 percent

soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Lara

    What makes the U.K., Spain and Latvia different from Portugal?
    Why would Portugal be invited to accept another debt with the European Union, when the previous ones seem to be even worse?

    I totally understand the REPUBLIC OF IRELAND to refuse, so far, getting even more in debt and having to put their people in a struggle (further more).

    If the E.U. is like it is right now, is only because GERMANY and FRANCE tried to have the MONOPOLY of the crops, industry and subsidised (with extremely poor pay outs) the agriculture, manufacturing industries and pecuary across European Union countries, so they can get richer and richer. As a Russian newspaper mentioned last week, E.U. idea has started so that France would no longer be invaded by Germany once again and would be financially protected as well as its territory.

    We are blind. E.U. isn't a union!!! Is a new Xenofobic way of putting down some countries under large countries' controls!

    Is no wonder that North-Americans (U.S.A. people) think that Paris is the "capital of Europe". Is ignorant, but somewhere the rumour started.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:25 am |
  2. german fighter

    Is the US Budget better than Ireland ?

    November 16, 2010 at 11:36 am |
  3. Pedro

    This just proves my point! in my honest opinion, this is nothing but media-hype and speculation especially towards Portugal
    The macroeconomic indicators of this nation are not that different from those of some of the big ones (look at the UK, or France for instance, with their high deficit and public debts) and it's really difficult to understand why is it that the markets prefer to attack the smallest, unless we really just accept and face reality: because it's much easier for them. The word of an English-speaking news reporter or Angela Merkel is worth 50,000 words coming out of Portugal's PM mouth.
    It saddens me again that the markets are doing this , they forget that the Portuguese are people, not dollar bills, and their behaviour shows how indifferent the markets are to that. So much for self-regulation if that means people getting poorer and countries going bankrupt due to speculation.
    Again with the rating agencies let me remind you of its recent downgrade of Portugal due to its macroeconomic outlook... well, why not the UK then? Why does the UK get a prim AAA rating? There's a twisted logic in all this, especially when taking into account that portugal is indeed the poorest of the Eurozone in terms of per capita income... shouldn't it be helped by the markets instead of having to take measures to hamper its economic growth?
    There are many questions that seem to have little to no answer in reasonable terms. But one fact is certain, the markets are being wreckless with Portugal, it is all mostly speculation and making profit, and I don't really know where this will lead. It is indeed a sad world we live in .

    November 16, 2010 at 2:43 pm |
  4. alex


    This is a decifit list, not a debt list, the debts of Portugal are much larger in % of BNP then the UK's or Latvia's.
    That's why investors only want to loan money to the PIGS against higher interest rates.

    Ireland wants to fix it's own problems, this is admirable but not very realistic.
    They don't have to loan money just yet but when the runtime of their current loans ends (summer next year) they will have to refinance their loans againt (probably) much higher interest rates, wich will give Ireland a very very big finance problem.

    The EU actually helped Ireland because now it's money isn't worthless, wich would have happened in a situation where Ireland would have still have it's own coin.

    November 16, 2010 at 3:05 pm |
  5. Eric

    @ German Fighter.... Does not look like it (

    November 16, 2010 at 3:18 pm |
  6. Thomas

    I believe the US budget deficit was at 9.9% in sept 2009. This year it was a bit lower. Therefore it would rank 5th or 6th probably on this list.


    November 16, 2010 at 3:29 pm |
  7. Thomas

    I believe the US budget deficit was at 9.9% in sept 2009. This year it was a bit lower. Therefore it would rank 5th or 6th probably on this list.

    A government with low or no budget deficit has become the zeitgeist, but rarely does a it translate in countries being unable to repay their debt or their population moving into cardboard boxes. Japan has the second highest debt in the world (valued at 192% of GDP), but is hardly a country on the verge of bankruptcy. That's because not all of these deficit countries need to borrow money on foreign markets. Some have very rich internal markets for that. Rating agencies have less grip on such countries.

    So think about the various systems that are hidden behind those deficit percentages before making your judgment.

    November 16, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
  8. Olivier

    The reason why countries like Ireland and Portugal are being pressed to accept those help package is probably due to the defficit of their budget AND the overall state of their economies: it's too easy to look at raw numbers like those deficits and automatically infer broad cause and effect relationships (not to mentioned uneducated attacks on other countries).

    November 16, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
  9. GoodNews316

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    November 16, 2010 at 3:45 pm |
  10. Jono1

    Ireland is now paying the price for signing up to the Euro. I cannot see how small countries can compete with the likes of Germany and France.
    Brussels is a hotbed of corruption and MEP's are on a never ending gravy train...where did it all go wrong?

    The people of Ireland wish they had never heard of the Euro, now they are set back to the 60's when the likes of myself had to leave to find work abroad.

    For a few years they were living in a fools paradise, now they have to pay the piper. History will look back and record Irish were led like lambs to the slaughter...

    November 16, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
  11. Three Bears

    Quite Frankly the whole mess started when European Societies began to dismantle the labor movements. EVERYONE enjoyed the ride while it was good & now that many are complaining and whining. they want their life bad. NEXT time when some "liberal" is raising the alarm. all will listen. The penduilm swings back to the left...trickle down economics DID'NT WORK!! like is at a trickle. I was a bad idea from the start. The rest as it is said is history

    November 16, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
  12. Phil

    All these countries that went the Euro route are in trouble except the one that come up with the Euro (GERMANY). They should revert back to their own currency and stop making the Germans and their friends FRANCE richer by the day. These two sucked the others into their scheme by stating the Euro is the greatest thing on earth, but in reality it is a big farce. God forgive those poor ducklings.

    November 16, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  13. Klauz

    Lara's comment is a testament to the kind of misinformation that humans are susceptible to and the general lack of history and socio-political knowledge that plagues humanking.

    November 16, 2010 at 4:13 pm |
  14. Jeff in Kentucky


    I have not meet a single person in North-America (USA People) who think that Paris is the actual Capital of Europe.

    What exactly are you trying to say in your wondering monologue?

    Paris may be seen by some as the "cultural capital" or "fashion capital" or wine, cheese, or whatever capital. Although I would personally place Milan as the fashion capital of Europe.

    I have never know anyone to actually think that the EU was a single – that has a single capital that is Paris.

    November 16, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
  15. Henk

    It`s funny how CNN keeps attacking Europe in it`s articles never mentioning the US massive debt problems. Or the fact that the US started this whole financial crisis remember. Where are the articles of this. Where are the articles of the 1.3Trillion US 2010 deficit? All of this on top of their massive printing of US dollars like the 600Billion for Quantitative easing. And the large bailouts for many US states in Debt including states like California.

    While Europe is quickly taking the steps to get it`s budgets balanced the US Debt keeps growing and growing. Now about to reach 14 Trillion dollars. The US can`t keep this charade up forever. With China`s growing military ans Space Programs the US will soon be wanting to increase investments or loose leadership all together. Choosing to invest will further increasing their debt.

    And New US programs like healthcare for everyone will even more accelerate the growth of US debt. This is on top of the US worsening infrastructure of which many bridges and roads are becoming dangerous to drive on. While the US spends only 2.5% of GDP on infrastructure Europe spends an average of 5% in Europe. The numbers don`t lie. The US will have things coming even though CNN doesn`t like to report it.

    November 16, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
  16. Alessandro

    The 2009 US budget deficit would represent 12.3% of gross domestic product, the largest share since World War II.

    The 2010 Budget proposed by President Barack Obama projects significant debt increases. The debt is projected to nearly double to $20 trillion by 2015, but is expected to increase to nearly 100% of GDP by 2020 and remain at that level thereafter. These estimates assume real GDP growth (after inflation) ranging from 2.6% to 4.6% annually from 2010 through 2019, which exceeds Blue Chip consensus estimates

    November 16, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
  17. Jonathan

    To Lara,

    No, we Americans don't think Paris is the capital of Europe. I think you are just pulling this crap out of your ass. Please get a better education. You'll do the world a favor.

    November 16, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
  18. blubblub

    @ Lara UK and Latvia are not € member.

    The EU was build for many reasons and one of them was no war anymore. No wonder I think. For the frenchies the very reason for the EU was to weakens germany and make france to the continental powerhouse + to protect europe against to much anglo-american influences. And the reason for the euro was because the old D-Mark was to strong for france and other eu countrys and germany needed to agree because of the reunifcation with the GDR. Wich france and GB do not wanted.

    and germany still have the strongest manufacturing industrie in europe. They do not need to buy from poor countrys like GB^^
    Germany pays the most since the establishing of the EU + Germany still pay hundreds of millions € per year to jews for holocaust. It is very funy that they are not even in that list.

    Any country wich want to go out of the EU can go. No one is forced.
    except germany. It is still a WW 2 story. without the EU nationalism would spread over europe again and the first loser of this would be the poor countrys.

    November 16, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
  19. BJB

    @Lara: you make some interesting points – as an expat living in Spain I see no sign of politics as usual changing – no-show and no-work government jobs, permanent contracts, graft, and very little sense of creating a competitive economy that has a balance of exports – after all, how much jamon and flamenco does the rest of the world really want? Obstructionist practices in France block early harvests from the peninsula, and Lidl has created great inroads for bratwurst but feature few if any Spanish products in their stores in Germany and abroad.

    BTW: everyone knows the capital of Europe is Berlin.

    November 16, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
  20. streaky

    A lot of people talking like there's some conspiracy to attack portugal and ireland, asking why the issue is different for the UK.

    It's all about term confusion.

    Deficit is a short term (annual) measure, DEBT is the key point, some of these countries debt and ability to pay numbers are really frightening.

    Also comes down to economic power and the ability to find cuts in public debt pressures.

    If you make a lot of money and also can find places to slash easily due to been spending for the hell of it, and will do bond yields will stay low for that country. If you're say Ireland and refuse to like.. tax google.. have serious problems cutting costs and have no real growth prospects, and are also hemmed in by the euro (can't devalue currency, for example), then yields go up.

    The UK on the other hand is growing, can devalue worst case which lowers the total debt, can reduce costs and in fact 2.5% groth per annum for 3 years (not wildly outside the realms of possibility) will put the public budget in surplus.

    There's many reasons actually, but they're the main ones.

    November 17, 2010 at 2:31 am |
  21. Puff Wealth

    Some interesting points have been made about this crisis, if you're interested in seeing another perspective check out my blog at

    November 17, 2010 at 8:02 pm |

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