As the Eurozone debt crisis enters a critical stage, just-drinks has collated European Commission data on the extent of Government debt as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP).

Debt to GDP ratios have risen sharply in many European Union countries since the onset of the global economic downturn. Below is a chart detailing how the debt has piled up in the EU's five largest economies.

While Italy clearly stands out - it has the second largest debt to GDP ratio in the EU after Greece - the last four years have been most transformational for the UK. Having proudly lagged its peers early in the 21st Century, the UK now has a higher debt ratio than either France or Germany.

Taken as a whole, the figures make a mockery of the EU's stability and growth pact, which paved the way for the development of the euro as a single European currency. 

Part of the deal was that countries would not allow government debt to rise beyond 60% of GDP. The figures here show that this rule has long since been trampled and will be tough to resurrect.

Looking ahead, the figures here offer an idea of the magnitude of Europe's challenge. While companies often talk about Europe's high wealth per capita, plus its sophisticated legal, retail and transport infrastructure, the region's largest economies face high debt, muted economic growth and ageing populations.  

The map below compares debt to GDP across the EU in 2011. Red signifies the highest debt load and yellow the lowest.