Eurostat has put figures on the economic effort that European governments had to continue making in 2021, when some of the problems generated by the pandemic still persisted, to face its consequences. That year, Spain dedicated the equivalent of 7.3% of its GDP to health spending, a percentage similar to that of Sweden, Italy or Portugal, but which was practically one point below the average for the European Union and the Eurozone. , at a time when the economy grew at 5.5%, its most vigorous pace in more than two decades. The community statistics office has made public this week the data that includes the general disbursement that the governments of the region undertook by areas of spending.
In a year still marked by Covid and the measures taken by governments to deal with it, the group of European executives devoted the bulk of their spending to social protection, which accounted for an average of 20.5% of the GDP of the Twenty-seven (somewhat less than in 2020, at the worst moment of the health crisis, when it reached 21.9%) and 21.2% in the case of the euro area as a whole. It was followed by spending on Health (8.1%), on Economic Affairs (6.3%) and general public services -with spending of 6% of GDP, which includes public debt transactions-, as well as that devoted to Education (4.8%).
The two largest items explain the extent to which Europe made an effort to deploy an entire safety net to protect the most vulnerable after a crisis in a way that was not recorded in peacetime due to the virtual paralysis of the economies. The EU spent more than 2.98 trillion euros on social protection, with a very different relative weight between the country that least dedicated to this area, Ireland (8.7% of its GDP) and the one that most, France (24, 8%), which fully deployed the capacity of its public sector.
Within this section, the largest amount in payments was taken by everything related to the aging of the population, mainly because this section includes spending on pensions. Spain devoted around 10.7% of its GDP to this area, the protection of the elderly, also below the Union (10.8%) and the Eurozone (with 11.1% of its GDP). ), although it remained among the reference countries for the entire area. According to the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations, at the end of that year the pension payroll had climbed to 10,309 million euros in Spain, with the System facing the payment of more than 9.91 million contributory pensions.
The unemployment rate is noted in relative spending on unemployment
Together with Spain (20.6%) and France, seven countries dedicated at least 20% of their wealth to social protection: Finland (24.6% of GDP), Italy (23.4%), Austria (21.9 %), Denmark (21.1%), Belgium (21%), Germany (20.9%) and Greece (20.6%). Almost all of this outlay was made in the form of social benefits. Social protection includes, along with pensions, unemployment benefits, sick leave, accident leave, maternity leave, as well as other types of pensions. The fact that Spain maintained the highest unemployment rate in the entire region meant that in 2021 it had to allocate most of its spending to this end, 2.7%, one point above what the euro partners used media.
The second of these items, the one that has to do with health spending, touched 1.18 trillion euros in the European Union as a whole, the equivalent of 8.1% of its wealth, taking into account that the majority of The countries have public care schemes. Most of this amount went to hospital services (3.4% of GDP) and outpatient services (2.5% on average). Eurostat explains in its report that this type of spending began to increase gradually since 1995 and jumped in the two years of the pandemic because governments had to suddenly face the costs of treatment, equipment of personal protection and vaccinations that the member states had to assume to cope.