Ireland stands alongside Denmark as the most expensive country in the EU for everyday expenses - a "staggering" position that has led to a call by experts for a Minister for Consumer Affairs.
A report released by the European Commission's data analysis wing Eurostat revealed that prices in both Ireland and Denmark were 40% higher than the EU average in 2021. In contrast, Romania and Bulgaria had the lowest.
According to Eurostat, if the price level index of a country is higher than 100, the country concerned is relatively expensive compared the EU average, while if the price level index is lower than 100, then the country is relatively inexpensive compared to it.
Ireland was revealed to have the highest price level for alcohol and tobacco at almost 105% of the EU average, or a score of 205 on the index. This was followed by Finland and Sweden which had price levels of just under 73% and almost 36% higher respectively.
The lowest price levels for alcohol and tobacco were observed in Bulgaria, at nearly 36% lower than the EU average, followed by Poland with 28% lower. Eurostat said that the large price variation seen for these goods was a result of differences in taxation.
Outside of the EU, if someone really fancied a cheap pint and a smoke, then North Macedonia is the place to go in Europe, while Turkey is the place for fashionistas and a cheap feed, with the lowest in 36 ranked countries in each category.
💰In 2021, price levels for consumer goods & services differed widely across the EU.— EU_Eurostat (@EU_Eurostat) June 21, 2022
🇩🇰Denmark & 🇮🇪Ireland (both 140% of the EU average) had the highest price levels.
Lowest price levels were found in 🇷🇴Romania & 🇧🇬Bulgaria (both 56%).
Ireland was also reported as having a high cost for food, with prices at almost 17.5% higher than the EU. Luxembourg is the costliest country for grub, at almost 16.5% higher than fellow EU member states.
When it comes to clothing and footwear, Ireland fares comparatively well, coming in just below the EU average. However, it is by far and away the most expensive when it comes to housing costs at 88.5% higher than the EU average, and in the top third for hotels and restaurants at 29.5% higher.
Consumer information and comparison website Bonkers.ie said the figures were "staggering" while calling for a Minister for Consumer Affairs to be appointed.
Bonkers.ie said: "In 2016, prices here were 29% above average but the gap has gotten bigger every year since. Prices in Ireland are now well above traditionally expensive countries such as Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg.
It said the cost of hotels and restaurants had ballooned even higher since the Eurostat data was calculated.
"These figures were compiled before scores of hotels were block-booked by the Government to house asylum seekers and Ukrainians fleeing the war, which some say has led to prices in the hotel sector skyrocketing this summer."
Bonkers.ie spokesperson Daragh Cassidy said: "The scale of the difference in prices between Ireland and our neighbours is pretty shocking. And it’s getting worse, which doesn’t bode well for our competitiveness.
"Consumer bodies such as the CCPC, and regulators such as the CRU for energy and ComReg for telecommunications also need to do better jobs and stand up for consumers more. If they need more powers to enforce laws and bring prices down, they should demand them."