When people talk about Euro Zone spreads they normally refer to the difference between the government borrowing interest rate of a particular Euro Zone country in comparison to the interest rate for the German government. German government bonds are taken as the benchmark since lending to the German government is basically seen as risk free. When lending to other countries, especially the southern Euro Zone countries, a risk premium is added on top of the German interest rate to reflect the higher default rate of those countries.
Besides this financial interpretation of spreads, a different form of spreads can be constructed to show the differences in the real economy between the Euro Zone countries: unemployment spreads. Unemployment spreads for the Euro Zone are defined as the difference between the unemployment rate in a particular Euro Zone country and the unemployment rate in Germany. As can be expected Euro Zone countries most hit by the Euro crisis have the highest unemployment spreads, with Greece and Spain even above 20 percent. This is a lot higher than the Euro Area average of 5.8 percent and the EU average of 5,3 percent. Austria, the Netherlands and Finland on the other hand have unemployment rates comparable to that of Germany.