To be sure, there are particular small countries which have made serious spending cuts, in the Baltics most of all. But sometimes one hears it said that an anti-austerity strategy must be EU-wide as a whole, or that austerity is “a failed strategy for the eurozone,” or something similar. So perhaps it is worth looking at some numbers for the larger picture.
First, I wish we would stop being surprised by what’s happening in Europe right now. Second, I wish anti-austerity critics would start acknowledging that taxes have gone up too–in most cases more than the spending has been cut. Third, I wish that we would stop assuming that gigantic “savage” cuts are the source of the EU’s problems. Some spending cuts have been implemented in a few countries. Also, if this data were adjusted for inflation (which I would prefer but the data isn’t available) it would possibly show a slight decrease and certainly a flatter line for all countries. However, the overwhelming take away from the European experience is that a majority of governments haven’t really implemented spending cuts, large or small, and some have even continued to grow.