Irish Examiner Saturday

EU: Munster ‘is richer than Paris region’

- Seán McCárthaig­h

Munster remains the second-wealthiest region across the entire EU, based on GDP figures from the European Commission which purportedl­y show the region is wealthier than the Paris area.

A Eurostat report reveals GDP per capita in Ireland’s southern region — incorporat­ing the six counties of Munster as well as Carlow, Wexford, and Kilkenny — is almost three-and-a-half times greater than the EU average.

It estimates average GDP in the southern region in 2019 was 240% of the EU average. Only Luxembourg, with 260%, had a higher level of wealth creation.

The figures put the area ahead of leading economic on mainland Europe, including Île-de-France (the Paris region), Brussels, Prague, and Hamburg.

Ireland’s eastern and midland region, which covers the remaining counties of Leinster, including Dublin was the joint fourth-highest, along with Brussels, at 202% of the EU average.

However, the Republic’s third region, northern and western — consisting of Connacht and the three Ulster counties in the Republic — had just 78% of the EU average. Eurostat said there was considerab­le variation in GDP rates both between and within the 27 EU members.

It partly attributes the strong performanc­e of Ireland’s southern and eastern and midland regions to the large capital assets of some multinatio­nals based in the Republic.

However, there is a wellknown problem with using the GDP figures to assess prosperity in Ireland, because the measure wildly overestima­tes the size of the economy in the way it acregions counts for the activity of multinatio­nals here.

Eurostat said GDP per capita was a measure of the total economic activity in a region used for comparing the degree of economic developmen­t between different parts of the EU.

“GDP does not measure the income ultimately available to private households in a region,” it added.

The EU’s poorest regions were generally found in eastern Europe, where GDP per capita was as low as 32% of the EU average, in Bulgaria’s north-west region.

Ireland’s southern region also recorded the greatest labour productivi­ty rate from some 240 regions in the EU in 2019.

The latest figures show GDP per person employed in the southern region was €205,000 compared to the EU average of €66,800, while eastern and midland had the second-highest level in the EU with €156,900.

In contrast, the rate for the northern and western Region was less than €70,000.

 ?? Picture: Michel Euler/AP ?? Critics say the ranking — which puts Ireland’s southernmo­st nine counties above the Paris region in terms of wealth — is distorted by the relative scale of multinatio­nals in Ireland.
Picture: Michel Euler/AP Critics say the ranking — which puts Ireland’s southernmo­st nine counties above the Paris region in terms of wealth — is distorted by the relative scale of multinatio­nals in Ireland.

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