Government debt levels rose in the European Union last year, according to Eurostat, but economic expansion in the region pushed the overall debt-to-GDP ratio down.

The countries that use the euro had a combined debt of €9.86 trillion in 2018, up €99 billion (1%) year-on-year. Meanwhile, in the wider European Union, debt levels rose €135.5 billion (1.1%) to €12.7 trillion.

However rising activity meant that debt made up a smaller portion of the region's economic value.

The EU's debt-to-GDP ratio stood at 80% last year, down from 81.7% in 2017. In the euro area the ratio was 85.1%, down two percentage points year-on-year.

According to Eurostat the EU member state with the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio last year was Estonia at 8.4%. The highest was recorded in Greece, which saw its ratio rise almost five percentage points to 181.1%.

Last year Ireland's national debt rose by almost €5 billion to €206.2 billion, however the country's debt-to-GDP ratio fell 3.7 percentage points to 64.8%.

Eurostat said that 13 countries reported a budget surplus last year, while Ireland reported a balanced budget.