Eurozone government debt fell for the first time in nearly six years in the third quarter, data showed on Wednesday, adding to signs the bloc was turning the corner on the sovereign debt crisis.
Debt in the 17 countries sharing the euro stood at 8.842 trillion euros ($11.98 trillion) in the three months to September, or 92.7 percent of the bloc’s GDP, compared with 8.875 trillion euros, or 93.4 percent, in the previous quarter.
The European Union’s statistics office Eurostat said it was the first decline, in absolute terms, since the fourth quarter of 2007.
Nearly 86 percent of the overall debt comes from securities other than shares, such as bonds and treasury bills, followed by loans, currency and deposits as well as intergovernmental lending related to the financial crisis.
Europe’s three biggest economies saw its debt fall, with Germany down to 78.4 percent of its GDP and France down to 92.7 percent,
Debt the bloc’s third largest economy Italy dropped to 132.9 percent from its peak of 133.3 percent in the previous quarter, but it remains the eurozone’s second highest after Greece.
Athens, which needed two bailouts of an aggregate size of 240 billion euros to avert bankruptcy, saw its debt going up to 171.8 percent from 168.8 percent in the second quarter.
Spain’s debt rose to 93.4 percent from 92.2 percent in the second quarter, while Portugal’s debt dropped to 128.7 percent from 131.3 percent.
The level of debt in a majority of euro zone countries, however, remains well above the European Union’s official limit of 60 percent of the economic output.