Two decades of EU integration wiped out in two years

Actual individual consumption dropped by 13 percentage points between 2009 and 2011 By Costas Karkayiannis

Greece’s gross domestic product per capita in purchasing power standards fell from 94 percent of the European Union average in 2009 to just 79 percent last year, according to data presented on Thursday by Eurostat.

After Greek GDP per capita managed to climb from 84 percent of the EU average in 1995 to 94 percent in 2009, following 14 years of European integration, the country’s output has now regressed to levels last seen at least 20 years ago within a period of just two years.

Out of the “old” EU member states, it is only Portugal that had a lower per capita rate than Greece, which dropped from 15th to 18th in the European Union in this list.

Greek households have been suffering over the last couple of years, according to the actual individual consumption (AIC) index, which records goods consumed and services used by households, regardless of whether they were paid for by the state (for example hospital care) or by private parties, and is a more accurate representation of households’ financial state.

In 2009 AIC in Greece stood at 104 percent of the EU average, but by last year this figure had dropped to just 91 percent – i.e. to 15th place among the 27 EU member states. This not only reflects the decline in private consumption, but also the inability of the state to support households efficiently, particularly those on lower incomes.

In general, the data presented by the European Union’s statistical agency illustrate the major gap between the countries of the bloc’s north and south.

That gap has grown considerably over the course of the last couple of years due to the financial crisis affecting the EU’s southernmost states.

For instance, from 2009 to 2011, consumption in Germany grew from 115 percent of the EU average to 120 percent, while in France it stayed put at 113 percent, in Italy it dropped to 101 percent and in Spain it declined to 94 percent.