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From hotels to wine and cheese, costs of goods and services vary widely across EU

A 2021 survey tracking the costs of goods and services across the EU reveals drastic differences in local economies.

(CN) — If you’re traveling through Europe, you’ll get a better deal on a hotel in Romania than you would in Denmark or Sweden. You'll spend less on clothes in Spain than in France and get more bang for your buck if you dine in Poland rather than Ireland. Data published by Eurostat on Tuesday reveals vast differences in the costs of goods and services across the EU and close trade partners.

The data was collected from price surveys assessing the costs of 2,000 goods and services across the continent during 2021. By calculating purchasing power parities, researchers are able to compare differences in price as if they used a common currency.

Hotels and restaurants cost more than three times as much in Ireland than in Bulgaria, according to the survey. In Ireland, these hospitality services cost 205% of the EU average, compared with Bulgaria where the services were about 54% of the baseline.

All together, goods and services cost the most in Denmark, 40% over the EU average, followed by Ireland (40%) and Luxembourg (32%). Bulgaria and Romania ranked the least expensive in nearly all categories, with total goods and services tracking 44% below the EU average.

Graphic shows differences in the cost of alcoholic beverages and tobacco among members of the European Union and close trade partners (Eurostat).

Among members of the European Free Trade Association, costs of goods and services in Switzerland soared 66% above the EU average, followed by Iceland, 49%, and Norway, 45%. Five candidate countries surveyed, Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey, all counted goods and services at about half of those in the EU.

"An understanding of the differences in price levels is important in the comparison of economic data, such as gross domestic product, because higher relative prices could make an economy look healthier than it really is," the report noted. "Observing price level differences is also important in the analysis of the development of the EU's single market for goods and services."

Food and nonalcoholic beverages account for roughly 19% of household expenses in the EU. Households dole out 6% of their expenses on alcohol and tobacco, 3% on clothing and 1% on footwear.

Of course, every country has its tradeoffs: Luxembourg reported the most expensive food, but Denmark had the highest priced clothes and shoes. Finland reported the highest costs of alcohol, 19% above the EU average, while Ireland's tobacco tracked 45% higher than the average.

Luxembourg ranks highest for meat prices, while Cyprus reported the most costly milk, cheese and eggs. If you're going to Denmark, look out for fish prices, because they are the highest in the EU.

Households also typically budget 5% of expenses for energy, 2% for furnishings, and 1% on household appliances and consumer electronics. Denmark reported having the most expensive energy costs for consumers, and Turkey the lowest.

While Eurostat tracks varying consumer costs across the EU, the question of quality is likely to remain a heated debate among member states.

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