Price levels of hotels and restaurants, alcoholic beverages and tobacco, and clothing in Bulgaria were the lowest in the European Union in 2019, according to figures released on June 19 by EU statistics agency Eurostat.
In 2019, the year before Covid-19 containment measures began to be widely introduced by member states, price levels for consumer goods and services differed widely in the EU, Eurostat said, citing figures for the current 27 members of the post-Brexit bloc.
Denmark (141 per cent of the EU average) had the highest price level, followed by Ireland (134 per cent), Luxembourg (131 per cent), Finland (127 per cent) and Sweden (121 per cent).
At the opposite end of the scale, the lowest price levels were found in Bulgaria (53 per cent) and Romania (55 per cent).
In other words, price levels for consumer goods and services in the EU varied by almost one to three between the cheapest and the most expensive member state, Eurostat said.
In 2019, the price level of a comparable basket of food and non-alcoholic beverages across the EU was almost twice as high in the most expensive member state as in the cheapest one.
Price levels ranged from 66 per cent of the EU average in Romania and 70 per cent in Poland, to 129 per cent of the average in Denmark, followed by Luxembourg and Austria (both 124 per cent), Finland (119 per cent), Ireland (116 per cent), France (115 per cent), Sweden (114 per cent), Malta (113 per cent) and Belgium (112 per cent).
Price levels for alcoholic beverages and tobacco showed significant variations between the EU member states, Eurostat said.
The lowest price level in 2019 was registered in Bulgaria (62 per cent of the average), ahead of Poland (74 per cent), Hungary and Romania (both 75 per cent).
At the opposite end of the scale, the highest prices were observed in Ireland (188 per cent), followed at a distance by Finland (157 per cent), Sweden (131 per cent), France (126 per cent) and Denmark (119 per cent).
It should be noted that this large price variation is mainly due to differences in taxation of these products among member states, Eurostat said.
Restaurants and hotels is another category where large differences in price levels were observed. Price levels ranged from 60 per cent or less of the EU average in Bulgaria (45 per cent) and Romania (54 per cent) to 156 per cent in Denmark.
Consumer electronics is a group of products where prices differed less among member states, ranging from 91 per cent of the average in Poland to 111 per cent in France.
Clothing is another group of products showing a smaller price disparity among member states, with Bulgaria (79 per cent of the average) cheapest and Denmark (132 per cent) most expensive, followed at a distance by Sweden (118 per cent) and Finland (115 per cent).
With the noticeable exception of Denmark (138 per cent of the average) and the Netherlands (121 per cent), price differences among member states were also limited for personal transport equipment, from 82 per cent in Slovakia to 114 per cent in Ireland, Eurostat said.
In a separate report, Eurostat said Bulgaria had Actual Individual Consumption (AIC) per capita 41 per cent below the EU average in 2019, the lowest in the bloc. AIC is a measure of material welfare of households.
In 2019, GDP per capita expressed in PPS ranged between 53 per cent of the EU average in Bulgaria and 261 per cent in Luxembourg. The Purchasing Power Standard (PPS) is an artificial currency unit that eliminates price level differences between countries.