Ireland had the third biggest deficit in the EU last year at 8.2%, new figures from Europe show today.

The largest deficit was recorded by Spain, followed by Greece, according to Europe's statistical agency Eurostat.

Spain's deficit stood at 10.6%, while the Greek deficit was 9% last year. A total of 17 member states had deficits higher than 3% of GDP, today's figures show.

Fifteen member states recorded in improvement in their deficits last year compared to 2011, while 12 reported a growing deficit and one remained stable. 

The lowest deficits were seen in Estonia and Sweden (-0.2%), Luxembourg (-0.6%) and Bulgaria (-0.8%). Germany achieved a government surplus of 1% last year. 

The Eurostat figures also showed Ireland had the fourth largest debt to GDP ratio last year at 117.4%. The figure  measures a country's borrowings in proportion to the size of its economy. 

The biggest debt to GDP ratios were recorded by Greece (156.9%), Italy (127%) and Portugal (124.1%). The lowest debt to GDP ratios were seen in Estonia (9.8%), Bulgaria (18.5%) and Luxembourg (21.7%).