Only Denmark surpassed Germany, which reported a surplus for the third year in a row, amounting to more than €19 billion, or 0.7 percent of GDP in 2014.
Denmark had a surplus of 1.2 percent of GDP, or about 24 billion Danish kroner (roughly €3.2 billion).
Germany’s overall government debt amounted to €2.17 trillion, decreasing from 77.1 percent of GDP in 2013 to 74.7 percent of GDP last year.
A deficit is the amount a government spends more than its income within any given financial year, while debt is the total amount a government owes over time.
Throughout the eurozone, government deficit fell overall from 2.9 percent to 2.4 percent of GDP or about €246 billion, while EU member state deficits fell from 3.2 percent to 2.9 percent of GDP or about €402 billion in 2014.
Still, government debt in the euro area rose last year to 91.9 percent from 90.0 percent of GDP in 2013, while in the EU as a whole government debt was up to 86.8 percent of GDP from 85.5 percent the previous year. Euro zone debt amounted to about €9.3 trillion while EU debt totalled more than €12 trillion last year.
EU policies are forcing countries to reduce budget deficits, despite the fact that reducing spending could slow already very weak growth.
According to the EU Stability and Growth Pact, member states are supposed to aim for limits on deficits of 3 percent of GDP and debt of 60 percent of GDP.