Experts analyzed uneven development within the EU

18 december 2017

The new bulletin on the current trends in the global economy offers an analysis of one of the most important development problems in the world and in the EU: unevenness of development and inequality between different countries. The bulletin looks at this issue specifically in the context of the expanding EU.

The EU is a powerful economic block comprising 28 states with a total population of over 500 million people. The EU's total GDP exceeds USD 20 trillion, accounting for some 25% of the global GDP. It is an important neighbor and economic partner for Russia. Quite often, the EU becomes the focus of global attention because of currency, trade, energy or migration problems.

Analytical center experts have looked at the economic development in the 15 old EU members and the 13 new members. In 2000, the future new members were producing 7% of the EU's total GDP, however, in 2016, (13 years after they joined the EU), they were producing just 8% of the EU's GDP. The gap in per capita GDP by Purchasing Power Parity (based on IMF estimates using 2011 prices) was reduced somewhat in that period. It is important to note that the bulk of the closing of the gap occurred prior to 2008, in other words, it happened immediately before or immediately after ten Central and Eastern European countries joined the EU in 2004. It was quite an achievement but it only happened primarily in a rather small group of countries: in Ireland and Sweden, representing the older members, and in Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia, among the new members.

The experts note that the new EU members on average have lower state spending, lower relative public debt and lower unemployment rates (the latter being to an extent a result of their citizens migrating to more developed countries within the EU). The slow economic growth across the entire EU has brought the inflation rate to a very low level. The most challenging question is whether the savings rate in the countries in the middle of the GDP growth range is enough to ensure faster growth and modernization of the economy.

For more, see the bulletin Uneven economic development in the EU in the 2000s.

The other bulletins on current global economic trends can be found in Publications.