Government surplus/deficit of selected countries, EU, and Eurozone from 2002 to 2009 [Wikimedia Commons]  

As the data points indicate, troubled European economies started to take a nose dive in 2008. 

Countries whose budgets were already in the red developed much larger deficits, and others, such as Ireland in Spain - who had been running significant surpluses - saw their fiscal health decline rapidly.    

Eurostat economic data from "PIIGS" countries, UK, Germany, EU, and Eurozone for 2009 [Wikimedia Commons] 

By 2009, Greece and Ireland had budget deficits that were well over 10 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). And total public debt in Italy and Greece approached 120 per cent of GDP.

Meanwhile, GDP growth for the last quarter of 2009 was negative in almost all of the countries listed above, with Spain posting the most recessionary statistics.

Source: Al Jazeera