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June 28, 2017

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EU debt mountain grows to 90% of GDP

BRUSSELS -- European national debt levels have continued to rise way above EU limits, official data showed Wednesday, as the eurozone debt crisis undermines government revenues.

The EU statistics agency Eurostat said total accumulated national debt in the 17 eurozone nations increased to 90 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the second quarter, up from 88.2 percent in the first three months of the year.

In the full 27-member EU, debt rose to 84.9 percent from 83.5 percent.

The EU sets a 60-percent cap on total debt and 3 percent on annual public deficits but such limits have been under pressure for years in many states and the eurozone debt crisis has only made things worse.

The austerity policies adopted to cope with the crisis have cut government spending but in doing so they have also undercut growth sharply, with tax revenues falling in tandem.

Debt at levels approaching 100 percent are widely seen as unsustainable for the long term but some countries such as Japan have lived with them much higher than that for years.

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