In 2018, the EU’s 27 Member States spent almost €106b of government expenditure on environmental protection, representing 1.7% of total government expenditure. This is equivalent to 0.8% of GDP, data published by Eurostat shows.
Overall, in the EU, general government expenditure on environmental protection as a percentage of GDP remained stable since the beginning of the time series in 2001.
The highest share of expenditure on environmental protection is in the Netherlands and the lowest in Finland. In 2018, the ratio of government environmental protection expenditure to GDP varied across EU Member States from 0.2% in Finland, 0.3% in both Cyprus and Lithuania, 0.4% in Denmark, Ireland, Hungary and Austria to over 1% in Malta (1.2%), Belgium and Greece (both 1.3%) and the Netherlands (1.4%).
In SEE the ratio of government spendings on environmental protection is relatively high with Greek and Romanian governments putting 2% of their overall expenditures into activities related to protecting the environment. In Bulgaria, which ranks 12th among the EU countries, the expenditure is a bit under 0.8% of the GDP and around 1% of the overall government spendings.
No investments in R&D in the SEE region
As much as the numbers are interesting, it’s even more curious what the government funds are spent on. In Bulgaria, Romania, and Greece, the highest proportion of funding is used for waste management, and 0% of these expenditures go for research and development (R&D), the Eurostat data shows further. In Bulgaria, most of the expenditures are for waste management, and the rest is spent on wastewater management. In Romania, in 2018, the government has spent mostly on pollution abatement, followed by waste management and wastewater management. For Greece, waste management and pollution abatement are also priority topics.
Generally, investing in R&D projects in the environmental protection domain doesn’t seem to be a priority for EU governments, shows the data. Estonia, Italy, Slovenia, and Portugal are the EU countries where governments do, although minor percentages, spend on environmental R&D.