Luxembourg still richest in EU, Bulgaria poorest - Eurostat

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Luxembourg remains the richest country in the 28-nation European Union and Bulgaria, despite some improvement over the last three years, is still the poorest, data from the European Union’s Statistics Office Eurostat showed on Thursday.

Eurostat said gross domestic product per capita expressed in purchasing power standards in Luxembourg was 263 in last year against an EU average of 100.

Bulgaria, which joined the EU in 2007 together with Romania, had the lowest wealth level measured by GDP per capita of 47. Romania was second poorest with 50.

Luxembourg has the top position partly thanks to a large number of cross-border workers, who contribute to the country’s GDP but are not counted into the population because they live in neighbouring Germany, France or Belgium.

The Purchasing Power Standard (PPS) is an artificial currency unit that eliminates price level differences between countries, so that one PPS buys the same volume of goods and services in all countries.

Austria became the second richest country in the EU last year with an increase in GDP per capita to 130 from 129 in 2011 and 127 in 2010, moving ahead of the Netherlands which has been growing relatively poorer -- it GDP per capita fell to 128 last year from 129 in 2011 and 130 in 2010.

Paradoxically Ireland, which had to be bailed out by the International Monetary Fund and the euro zone in late 2010 because it lost access to credit markets, remains the EU’s third richest country with a GDP per capita of 129 which did not change since 2010.

Eurostat data showed, however, that measured in Actual Individual Consumption per capita, an alternative indicator better adapted to describe the material welfare situation of households, Ireland’s wealth level did decline from 102 in 2010 to 98 in 2012 and that it was only the 12th richest in the EU.

Luxembourg remains the richest country also when measured with the Actual Individual Consumption per capita indicator, with a reading of 138 but Germany is the second richest with 123 and Austria is third with 120.

For a full table see: here

Reporting By Jan Strupczewski