Ireland down, Poland up in EU wealth count
By Philip Ebels
Fresh statitsics have highlighted the wealth gap in the EU, with Luxembourg and Bulgaria at either extreme of the divide and Ireland and the Baltic states sliding down the scale.
GDP per capita varied by a factor of more than six to one across the EU in 2010, Euorstat, the bloc's statistical office, said on Tuesday (13 December), describing the situation as "quite remarkable."
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Luxembourg came out on top again, with levels of wealth more than two and a half times the EU average.
The numbers count foreign residents employed in the country who contribute to its overall wealth but who are not counted in the resident population, however.
The consumption level of Luxembourgers - deemed by Eurostat to be "a more suitable indicator of households' actual standard of living" - is also the highest in Europe and one half more than that of the EU average.
The Netherlands is second from the top, with a GDP per capita a third higher than the EU norm. But non-EU countries Norway and Switzerland beat the Dutch.
The Irish, who enjoy wealth levels not much lower than those of Dutch people despite being the subject of EU and International Monetary Fund-imposed austerity, came third. Nevertheless, the Eurostat note added that there is "a clear downward trend" in Ireland compared to the start of the financial crisis in 2008.
The same "very substantial decline" was noted in the Baltic countries (which placed well below the EU average) and in EU candidate Iceland.
Poland, the fifth poorest in the EU as things stand, "shows clear improvement" however.
Bulgaria and Romania lie at the bottom of the ranking, scoring worse than incoming EU member Croatia and EU candidate Turkey, but better than the other former Yugoslav republics.