Some regions of the European Union are now poorer than parts of sub-Saharan Africa, according to a new study* from the Institute of Economic Affairs. For example, GDP per head in Botswana is higher than in large parts of Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.
The author** defines "New Europe's Old Regions" as those areas of the EU that are very poor, have high levels of unemployment, low productivity and are dominated by agricultural and manufacturing industries. Nearly all these regions are in the newly-admitted countries of the EU or in former East Germany.
The richest regions of the EU have twelve times the income levels of the poorest regions in New Europe and twenty times the productivity levels. Swathes of Poland and the former East Germany suffer from official unemployment rates of over 20%,