German Maastricht debt level for 2012: €2.17 trillion, or 81.9% of GDP

According to provisional calculations, general government debt in Germany as defined in the Maastricht Treaty amounted to approximately €2.166 trillion at the end of 2012.The debt ratio, ie the ratio of debt to GDP, increased by 1.5 percentage points compared to 2011, amounting to 81.9%.

Debts rose by €81 billion, although the general government budget balance recorded a surplus of €4 billion. Of particular significance here were measures in connection with the European sovereign debt crisis, which accounted for €45 billion. Germany contributed just under €9 billion in capital to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and granted €36 billion in assistance loans to euro-area countries via the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). Both of these add to the (gross) debt level, but are not reflected in the deficit as defined by the Maastricht Treaty, because, in parallel with the increase in debt, an expansion in financial assets in the same amount is recorded. In addition, a greater role was played in particular by the use of large surpluses in social security funds and at local authorities to add further to reserves, which meant that these surpluses did not reduce the gross debt level. On the other hand, the central and state government deficits, which were more than made up for by the surpluses at other levels, did add to the debt level.

Since the beginning of the debt and financial market crisis, general government debt in Germany has grown sharply as a result of support measures in favour of domestic financial institutions and for euro-area countries. The cumulative effect of financial market support on the debt level since 2008 has amounted to approximately €285 billion, or 11% of GDP, although there was a slight reduction last year. The response to the sovereign debt crisis has required a total of around €65 billion, or 2½% of GDP. For the most part, the expansion in debt has gone hand in hand with an increase in government financial assets, such as credit claims.

Provided that the risk assets can be liquidated in the future and that assistance loans are repaid, the debt level will fall again in time.

Under the European budgetary surveillance procedure, the member states of the European Union are obliged to submit data on their general government deficit and debt levels to the European Commission twice a year (end of March and end of September). For this purpose, the Federal Statistical Office calculates the deficit as defined by the Maastricht Treaty, while the Bundesbank calculates the Maastricht debt level.

Table debt level

  2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Dept level (€ billion) 1,574 1,584 1,653 1,769 2,056 2,085 2,166
as a percentage of GDP 68.0 65.2 66.8 74.5 82.4 80.4 81.9