LONDON: The living standard of British people has climbed to the fourth highest within the European Union,overtaking the Netherlands and significantly ahead of France, Italy and Spain, according to official figures compiled by Eurostat, the statistical office of the EU.
Luxembourg, currently mired in controversy over “industrial level” tax avoidance, easily topped the table of living standards, as measured by “actual individual consumption”. AIC incorporates all goods and services that a household consumes, including benefits-in-kind, such as health and education services.
The UK’s standard of living in 2013 was 15% higher than the average for the 28 member states of the EU, and was up one place from the year before. Luxembourg came top (36% higher than average) followed by Germany (22%) and Austria (20%). Four nations, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the UK were then jointly ranked in fourth place.
Bulgaria is the country with the lowest living standards in the EU, at just 49% of the average, followed by Romania. Both countries have a lower standard of living than the average for Turkey, Eurostat said. Countries which have seen their relative standard of living fall most include Greece, Ireland, Cyprus, Italy and the Netherlands, while the biggest risers have been Poland, Estonia and Latvia.
But two of the richest countries in Europe are not EU members. Norway and Switzerland came just below Luxembourg, but significantly ahead of Germany. Iceland, despite suffering an economic meltdown when its banks collapsed during the financial crisis, still enjoys a consumption level above nearly every other country in Europe.