The Dutch government spent 270.3 billion euro in 2008. This is the equivalent of 45.5 percent of the Dutch gross domestic product (GDP). This puts Dutch government spending under the average in the EU: 46.8 percent of GDP.
Government spending in the Netherlands and the EU, 2000-2008
Strong increase in British and Irish government
The size of Dutch government rose slightly between 2000 and 2008, by 1.3 percent points of GDP. Dutch government spending was slightly lower than the EU average in this whole period. The average increase in European governments in the period 2000 to 2008 was 1.6 percent points of GDP. The size of governments grew in 2008 in particular (1.1 percent points of GDP), as a result of the global economic recession.
The size of government increased particularly strongly in Ireland and the United Kingdom. British government spending rose from far below the EU average to above the EU average in the space of eight years. In Slovakia government spending fell substantially. This is the consequence of political decision-making in favour of a smaller government. The - successful – attempt to restrict the government deficit to join the eurozone also played a part in this respect. Eight years ago, Slovakia was one of the European countries with relatively the highest government spending. In 2008 the Slovakian government spent the least in relative terms of all countries in the EU.
Government spending, changes 2000-2008
Germany spends most on social benefits
Together the EU countries spent 2.4 billion euro on social benefits. This is about 20 percent of GDP. Since 2006, the share of GDP spent on benefits in the Netherlands has been above the EU average. This is the result of the introduction of the new system of heath insurance in 2006.
Germany spends relatively most on social benefits; the United Kingdom and Ireland spend less than the EU average on benefits.
Spending on social benefits, 2008
Guihong Chi and Rudolf Timmermans