In 2021, the EU spending on environmental protection amounted to €292 billion and continue to rise on average at 3% each year, meaning that the total expenditure on environmental protection increased by 54% since 2006. This expenditure includes investments and consumption.

As a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), expenditure on environmental protection remained relatively stable over the last 15 years at about 2.0% of GDP.

This information comes from data on environmental protection expenditure accounts published by Eurostat. The article presents a few findings from the more detailed Statistics Explained article.

Environmental protection spending continues to rise 

Infographics: National expenditure on environmental protection in the EU, 2006-2021 (billion euro and % of GDP; by institutional sector; estimate)
Source dataset: env_ac_epneis and nama_10_gdp

Following the tendency of previous years, corporations’ spending was the largest share of the environmental protection expenditure, accounting for 55% of the total in 2021. The general government and non-profit sector share of the expenditure was 24%, while the households’ share was 21% of that year’s total. 

Compared with 2006, all three institutional sectors registered spending increases: 62% for corporations, 41% for general government and the non-profit sector, and 52% for households. 

Eurostat estimates that, in 2021, waste management and wastewater treatment accounted for 28% and 23% of total expenditure in the general government and non-profit sector. Data show that 24% of total expenditure went to environmental R&D and other environmental protection activities, including general environmental administration and education, 13% to biodiversity and landscape protection, and the remaining 11% to air protection, soil and groundwater protection, noise reduction and protection against radiation. 

As far as corporations are concerned, wastewater and waste management represented 27% and 56% of their expenditure in 2021, respectively. Protection of ambient air and climate accounted for 7% of the total. The remaining 10% was devoted to protecting soil and groundwater, biodiversity, noise reduction, protection against radiation and environmental R&D.

In 2021, EU investments in assets essential to provide environmental protection services amounted to €59 billion, €5 billion more than in 2020. These services included wastewater treatment plants, vehicles to transport waste, and acquisitions of land to create a natural reserve or cleaner equipment for producing with less polluting emissions. 

Environmental protection spending continues to rise 

Source: Eurostat – Environmental protection spending continues to rise