NEWS

Greek prices increase to European levels

A Kathimerini survey, part of which we published yesterday, compared the prices of basic goods and services in five European countries. It reveals that Athens prices are similar to those in Rome, Munich, London and Brussels. Basic consumer items such as bread, yogurt, sweets, coffee, sugar and newspapers cost much the same, despite a wide disparity in incomes. The average Greek income (not including the black economy) is only 70 percent of the average EU income. Nine months after the introduction of the common currency, the discrepancy between prices in the traditionally cheaper and more expensive countries has narrowed considerably. The rounding off of prices and the incidence of price-gouging are not uniquely Greek phenomena, but the situation in Greece sometimes seems out of control. The prices of most household goods in Europe are similar. Greek prices for items such as milk, yogurt, sweets, bread and coffee are about the same as those in Italy, Germany, Belgium and non-eurozone country Britain, which is traditionally more expensive. Judging solely by the prices of fruit and vegetables in Greece, one would never guess that this country actually produces such goods. Greece is also expensive when it comes to services: An espresso in a cafe costs 2.50 euros, compared with around two euros in Germany. Doctors’ visits have become significantly more expensive and a simple haircut costs the same in Greece, Italy and Belgium. According to recent surveys (by Kapa Research and Global Link), 70.6 percent of Greeks believe that the prices of goods and services have risen recently, while 50 percent think that they have risen higher than in other European countries. Similarly, 68.5 percent of the 310 million inhabitants of the eurozone believe the cost of living has risen recently, according to a European Commission survey. Europeans gained a clearer picture of the euro era during their summer holidays, when they had the opportunity to travel and compare prices, which is easier to do now because of the common currency. They could see that the price of a small bottle of water on Majorca has risen by 83 percent, while a beer at an Italian resort has gone up from the equivalent of 2.50 euros last year to 4.50 euros. A meal in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo this year shot up to almost twice the price it cost last year. In Spain, the price of a glass of beer has risen from one euro to 1.50, while sparkling mineral water in Florence costs 80 percent more than a year ago. According to the latest statistics from the European Consumers’ Union, prices have developed as follows in each country: *In Greece, according to data collected by the consumer organizations EKPOIZO and KEPKA, all categories of goods and services have become more expensive. The price of public transport has gone up by 6.7 percent, cigarettes by 6.4 percent, hairdressers’ services 20-50 percent, bread 3.1 percent, parking 25-30 percent, fuel 15.6 percent, newspapers and magazines 8.1 percent, restaurants, bars and cafes 20-50 percent, and doctors’ visits by 4.8 percent. *In France, prices of household necessities have risen by 4 percent on average since November last year. Prices of dairy, meat and delicatessen goods have shot up by 30 percent since March 31 this year. *In Austria, one out of 10 products and services has become more than 40 percent more expensive; one in three have gone up by about 40 percent; and three out of 10 by about 10 percent. In Austria, 83 percent of consumers’ complaints concern price rises. *In Germany, price rises have fluctuated. Increases at restaurants and cafes (June 2001 – February 2002) range from 0.52 to 29.14 percent. Hairdressers, car washes, and dry cleaners raised prices with the introduction of the euro. For example, the cost of dry-cleaning a pair of trousers went up by 48 percent. Consumer organizations say the largest price rises occurred in the year prior to the introduction of the euro, allowing some margin for reductions in 2002. *In Italy, the annual cost of food for a family rose by 205 euros from May 2001 to April 2002. The price of magazines and newspapers went up by 17 percent, and lottery tickets by 20 percent. Cinemas have increased ticket prices by 3 percent, bars have hiked their prices by 2.1 percent, and an average family paid 115 euros more than last year for food and hotels. The overall cost of living in Italy is estimated to have risen by 626 euros due to price increases since the euro’s arrival. People with Alzheimer’s find it difficult to follow complicated thought processes or to complete tasks requiring several stages. They become disoriented and have difficulty finding words and in expressing themselves. They often show poor judgement, mood swings, appear indifferent to rules of social behavior, or become aggressive.