Prague 12th richest region in the EU.

Vtava, photo: Stepanka Budkova

New figures released by the European Union reveal that the Prague region is surprisingly prosperous in comparison to the rest of the EU.

Prague
The newly released 2005 Eurostat figures suggest that Prague is the richest region of all the new EU member states that have joined since 2004. The statistics measure per capita GDP adjusted for purchasing power parity. This means that overall wealth is adjusted to account for local costs and conditions. According to the figures, the centre of the British capital London ranks number one in Europe at more than three times the EU average. Prague finds itself ranked number twelve at a very healthy 160% of the EU average, three percent up from the previous year’s figures.

I asked Daniel Tácha, Editor-in-Chief of Czech Business Weekly whether Prague could now be considered a wealthy region of Europe:

“I think that Prague is definitely a wealthy region in central Europe. But it is not surprising. You can easily find a job here, there are opportunities especially in tourism, and you can also see huge growth in the construction industry and of course in other services. You can see now that Prague has become a very popular place for migrant workers, mainly from Slovakia and Ukraine, but of course for workers from other parts of central and Eastern Europe too.”

However, the entire Czech Republic is still ranked at 76.6% of the EU average and below countries such as Greece and Slovenia, which means that it still remains eligible for EU development funds. This is due to that fact that Prague still far exceeds the rest of the Czech Republic in terms of wealth and development, with figures more than double any other region in the Czech Republic. For instance, the central Bohemian region ranks at on 70.5% of the EU average, while the Central Moravian region only ranks at 59.8%. Actual GDP per inhabitant also remains relatively low. Daniel Tácha explains:

“This is a problem, and not a new problem. Sometimes we say that Prague is a separate state within a state, I mean the Czech Republic. In Prague are based international companies, and people in Prague have the highest wages. But again, if the average wage in the Czech Republic is around 21,000 crowns; that is usually the wage for Prague, but not all of the Czech Republic. This is one of the most significant trends in the Czech Republic in the last few years – the difference in the incomes of people became much bigger.”

So how long till the rest of the Czech Republic catches up with Prague?

“It is a hard, hard question. I think it is just reality. For example in the countryside in the Czech Republic, it’s like a poor situation because the people don’t have so much opportunity to find jobs. And if they have some opportunities, it’s like poor jobs in factories, and the wages in these factories are around ten, eleven, twelve thousand crowns. So it is not enough for normal living.”

So it appears that it may be a number of years yet before the Czech Republic matches the great prosperity enjoyed by its capital.