The austerity wave that swept Europe last year is under attack from all sides. François Hollande upset Sarkozy in the French election largely by running against austerity measures, and other European leaders are also calling for some relaxation. Much to the chagrin of the Germans, many economists (as well as The Economist), seem to believe the anti-austerity camp is right—that harsh austerity measures are crippling growth at the time that Europe needs it most.But how austere are these austerity measures in reality? A chart from Veronique De Rugy (h/t Tyler Cowen) puts things in perspective:Here the “austerity measures” supposedly sweeping Southern Europe look considerably less formidable. Italy and Spain are indeed beginning to see small reductions in spending, but even so, government spending remains considerably higher than it had been earlier in the decade. Even in the UK, widely lauded for its ambitious austerity program, spending is essentially flat. There may be something to the argument that sudden contractions without serious long-term reforms could stall the recovery. Nonetheless, the idea that Europe is suffering from plunging government spending simply isn’t backed up by the evidence.