This graph shows EU member states ranked according to their GDP. The wealthiest are at the top, the poorest are at the bottom. The X axis represents time, from 1960 on the left to the present day on the right. The full hi-res PDF can be viewed here:
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The 28 member states of the EU are named on the right, Eurozone members in blue, non Euro in black.
The red lines represent GDP ranking prior to membership. The blue lines represent GDP ranking during membership.
The data is mostly taken from Classora which unfortunately only covers from 1960 to 2014, so for the entries after 2014 I have used IMF data which may be calculated slightly differently which would explain the slight jump on the right hand side. It’s also a shame the Classora information only goes back to 1960 as the EEC was founded in 1957. If anyone can direct me to 1957 GDP information I will be happy to incorporate and revise for the 6 countries who signed the Treaty of Rome.
Spot the pattern? Since joining the EU virtually every member state has declined DOWN the world GDP rankings.
The only exceptions are Poland and Ireland. Poland is a huge recipient of EU funds and has been insulated from many of the EU’s failings by not joining the Euro. Ireland has been on a bizarre roller-coaster of boom and bust, but given the experiences of other member states, Ireland’s prosperity can probably be explained by its close cultural ties to the English-speaking-world, principally of course the USA. Apart from Poland and Ireland it’s a sorry tale of misadventure. All the dark blue lines drift downwards towards the right hand side (even Germany!) with the poorest countries declining furthest and fastest.
Surely the whole point of the EU should have been that it protected the smaller countries from the large ones, so how do we explain the decline of the countries at the top being gradual, whereas the decline of the countries at the bottom is more extreme? Because the single market allows the free movement on people, companies and money, the companies in the large countries seem to be buying up the companies in the smaller countries. Additionally the more ambitious workers in the smaller poorer countries will naturally want to relocate to where wages are higher. This is effectively asset-strips the people and companies in the small poor countries, relocating the high-value assets to the big rich countries. The small countries therefore decline still further making their assets all the more affordable for the multinational tax-dodgers – a vicious circle is established.
In the EU’s defense often the decline was simply a continuation of a trend that already existed prior to membership, but still it can’t be argued that EU membership reverses a downward economic trend. Overwhelmingly EU member states are becoming poorer relative to the rest of the world.