Spain’s national debt has fallen and is now lower than that of France

by Lorraine Williamson
national debt

The Spanish national debt is two percentage points lower than expected in the first half of 2023. According to the Spanish government, this is a direct consequence of the economic growth during the same period. Statistics agency INE recently announced that gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 1.3 percentage points. 

Target for 2023 within reach 

The current national debt fell to 111.2% of GDP in the second quarter, making it lower than that of France (here 111.8%) for the first time since 2012, according to Eurostat data. With the recent result of 111.2%, the national debt is not far away from the target of 110% for the end of the year. 


Despite the fact that the economy in Spain recently grew faster than in neighboring countries, the national debt of €1.57 trillion in June still broke a record. However, the Ministry of Economic Affairs remains positive and expects a record decline in the national debt of five percentage points this year compared to last year. The Spanish Fiscal Authority Airef is even more positive and, following the economic growth figures recently published by the INE, calculated a decrease in the national debt of between 108-109%. 

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The Airef points out that the government debt, expressed as a percentage of GDP, of all autonomous communities together has been declining for eight quarters in a row and is now 14 percentage points lower than the record in March 2021 (then 125.2%). The Airef expects that economic growth will continue to be the most important factor in further reducing the absolute national debt in the near future. 

With the current decline in public debt, Spain has also moved further away from countries such as Greece and Italy, where debt is well above 140% of GDP. However, according to Raymond Torres of the Fundación de las Cajas de Ahorras (Funcas), it is still too early to say that Spain is no longer one of the European countries with the highest national debt. He thinks it is more realistic for Spain to improve compared to a country like France. Although Torres sees achieving the 110% target by 2023, he is less positive than Airef about the future. Torres expects that after this year the national debt will fall less quickly because the economy will grow less quickly and inflation will decrease. However, according to him, the most decisive will be the next state budgets of the Spanish government. 

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