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Government expenditure on environmental protection in the EU

Eurostat has published a set of statistics containing data on total government spending in the European Union by function, one of which focuses on financial expenditures on environmental protection including waste management, water waste management, pollution abatement, protection of biodiversity and landscape etc.

According to released statistics, the EU spent 119 billion euros on "environmental protection" in 2021, which is 0.8% of GDP. Most of the funds were used for waste management – 0.4% of GDP, followed by waste water management – 0.2% of GDP.

On the country level, in 2021 Croatia devoted the highest ratio of GDP to environmental protection (1.5 % of GDP), followed by the Netherlands (1.4 % of GDP), Belgium and Malta (1.3 % of GDP each) and Greece (1.2 % of GDP). The three countries that spend the least on environmental protection are Finland with a spending ratio of 0.2% of GDP, Ireland with 0.3% and Denmark with 0.4%.

The highest ratios to GDP for waste management were reported by Greece (0.8% of GDP), for waste water management – by Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway (0.4% of GDP), for pollution abatement – by Belgium (0.6% of GDP), for the 'protection of biodiversity and landscape' – by Malta (0.3% of GDP). Research and development (R&D) expenditures related to environmental protection were very low in all member states in 2021 (0.1% of GDP or less).

As seen in the figure below, which illustrates total government expenditure by function in the EU in 2021, public spending on environmental protection ranks among the last in the sample presented.