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London tops EU output per inhabitant

(BRUSSELS) - Inner London tops the European league in terms of economic activity per capita, according to figures released here Monday.

The Eurostat figures, which split the EU into economic areas, showed that gross domestic product per inhabitant in inner London stood at 303 percent of the EU average in 2004.

At the bottom of the rankings lay northeast Romania (not an EU member until last month) at just 24 percent of the bloc's average.

Regional GDP per inhabitant is a measure of the total economic activity in a region divided by the total number of people living in that region. Although it may be used to compare the degree of economic development of regions, it does does not measure the income ultimately available to private households.

The tiny Duchy of Luxembourg, with a correspondingly tiny population but replete with banking and financial services, was second on the list compiled by the EU's statistical office, at 251 percent of the EU average GDP per inhabitant.

Luxembourg narrowly beat the Belgian capital Brussels. The seat of the European Commission came in third at 248 percent, despite an unemployment rate of around 20 percent.

London, and some other areas on the list, profit from commuters from outside the area whp help produce the wealth but do not count as inhabitants.

Hamburg, Vienna and Paris and its environs (Ile de France) took the fourth, fifth and sixth places.

"The result is that GDP per inhabitant can be overestimated in these regions and underestimated in regions with commuter outflows," Eurostat said in its accompanying report.

Among the 46 regions exceeding the 125 percent level, from a total of 268 "territorial units" eight each were in Britain and Germany, seven in Italy, five in the Netherlands, four in Austria, three each in Belgium and Spain, two in Finland, one region each in the Czech Republic, Ireland, France, Slovakia and Sweden, and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

The fifteen lowest regions in the ranking were all in Bulgaria, Poland and Romania, with the lowest figures recorded in northeast Romania, followed at 26 percent by Severozapaden, Yuzhen tsentralen and Severen tsentralen in Bulgaria, which joined the EU with Romania on January 1.

Among the 70 regions below the 75 percent level, 15 were in Poland, eight each in Greece and Romania, seven in the Czech Republic, six each in Bulgaria and Hungary, four each in France (all overseas departments), Italy and Portugal, three in Slovakia, one region in Spain, and Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta.

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