Germany’s public finances ran up an overall surplus of 19.4 billion euros ($21 billion) in 2015, its highest in absolute terms since the German reunification in 1990, Destatis, Germany’s national statistics office revealed Tuesday.
Germany’s budget surplus, a situation in which the government’s income exceeds expenditures, amounted to 0.6 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), higher than the 0.5 percent that was reportedly forecast.
The budget surplus, widely regarded as an indicator of a government’s efficiency, was Germany’s second year in the black, even as fellow EU countries take on higher amounts of debt, violating EU’s Maastricht Treaty, which requires member states to limit debt to 60 percent of GDP and annual deficits no greater than 3 percent of GDP. The treaty, which led to the creation of the common currency euro, also states that members are obliged to reduce their deficit or reach a surplus in the medium term.
In 2014, Germany had achieved a surplus of 8.9 billion euros ($9.79 billion) or 0.3 per cent of GDP.
Europe’s largest economy showed “solid and consistent growth in 2015,” Destatis said in a separate release Tuesday, confirming an earlier estimate that the economy expanded by 0.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year.
Across 2015, the economy grew by 1.7 percent, the agency said, noting that the "positive impulses came primarily from domestic demand." Household spending rose by 1.6 percent while the government’s consumption spending, which includes goods and services provided by the government to refugees free of charge, rose 2.7 percent.
The country also recorded higher growth in almost all economic sectors on the production side, with the largest increases in construction, information and communication, and business services. However, foreign trade declined in the last quarter, with exports falling by 1.7 percent and imports slipping by 0.6 percent, official data showed.
Germany’s benchmark stock index, the DAX, was down 0.78 percent Tuesday.