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21st Apr 2019

Brussels third richest region in EU

  • Brussels is the richest region in Belgium and the third richest in the EU (Photo: EUobserver)

Brussels is the third richest region in the EU, following London and Luxembourg, a new survey has shown, while the bloc's poorest regions are all located in member states from central and eastern Europe.

At 336 percent of the EU's average GDP, or €89,300 GDP per inhabitant, inner London in the UK was found to be the richest EU region as of 2006, according to figures released by EU statistics office Eurostat on Thursday (19 February).

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Central London was followed by the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg on 267 percent (€71,800) of average EU GDP, Brussels, on 233 percent (€59,400), and Hamburg, on 200 percent (€48,600).

Austria, the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, France, Sweden, Ireland, Greece, Spain and Italy were also home to regions whose average wealth exceeds 125 percent of the EU's GDP.

But Eurostat points out that in certain regions, "the GDP per inhabitant figures can be significantly influenced by commuter flows. Net commuter inflows in these regions push up production to a level that could not be achieved by the resident active population on its own."

Additionally, the Dutch province of Groningen, ranked fifth richest EU region, is irritated by having been put so high on the list and calls the ranking "persistent nonsense," according to Radio Netherlands.

Its high position makes it harder for Groningen to receive EU subsidies, it notes.

At the other end of the scale, all 20 poorest regions in the EU are located in central and eastern Europe – namely in Bulgaria, Romania, Poland and Hungary, who all joined the bloc in the last five years.

Newest EU members Bulgaria and Romania share the first place on the list, with the northeast of Romania (€2,900 GDP per inhabitant) and the northwest of Bulgaria (€2,600) both with wealth equivalent to 25 percent of the EU's average GDP.

But the survey also shows considerable gaps between regions in the same country.

In Corsica, the measured average level of wealth is almost twice as low as that of the Paris Ile-de-France region, while the survey also confirms the long-acknowledged gap between Italy's north and south.

There were, however, urban areas in eastern Europe that are on average wealthier than some poor regions of the old member states.

People living in the region of Slovakia's capital, Bratislava (148.7% of average EU GDP), or in Prague (162.3%) live better than those in southern Italy (68.9%), in certain Spanish regions such as Andalucia (80.8%) or Murcia (87.1%), or in Namur, Belgium (81.9%).

The Eurostat survey takes into consideration 271 EU regions.

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