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How much are EU Member States spending in Education?

Investment in education is a priority area within the context of the EU's growth strategy for the current decade, Europe 2020. However, the economic crisis and the high levels of national budget deficits put public spending on education under pressure. Although public spending accounts for close to 90% of total investment in education, there is a lack of recent information on the public funding of education in Europe.  The latest data from the UNESCO and OECD are from 2011, and Eurostat’s latest expenditure data are from 2012. It is in this context that Eurydice, the European Commission’s Network on education systems and policies, has produced a study with national sheets providing the most recent data on education budgets in European countries. National sheets present the planned expenditure by the national public authorities at the reference period June 2014, therefore it is to be noted that the amounts do not necessarily correspond to actual expenditure at the end of the year.

The picture painted by the study is relatively positive. The results comparing 2014 budgets to 2013 at constant prices show that almost half of the countries/regions (16) had an increase in their educational budgets by more than 1% in comparison to the previous year. Among these, 6 countries/regions (Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Turkey and Northern Ireland) registered an increase even higher than 5%. The reasons behind can be different from country to country: for example in Hungary, the 9% increase appears to be a consequence of the introduction of a Teacher Promotion Scheme, and of the launch of the Structural Reform Fund for higher education. In Malta, the increase relies instead on more capital expenditure. At the same time, in 7 countries/regions education budgets remained stable at constant prices (increase or decrease below 1%) between 2014 and 2013 (French and Flemish Communities of Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Spain and England). Conversely, 8 countries/regions are listed as decreasing their education budget (Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, Greece, Wales and the German-speaking Community of Belgium). 

Read the full study: European Commission