Ireland now most expensive in EU for everyday costs

Ireland now most expensive in EU for everyday costs

A cost-of-living protest march on St Patrick's Street, Cork, on Saturday, June 18. Picture: Larry Cummins

Ireland now tops the table along with notoriously pricey Denmark as the most expensive country in the EU for everyday expenses, leading experts to call for a Minister for Consumer Affairs.

According to consumer information and comparison website, the pain of everyday costs spiralling is not going to get better anytime soon, as Ireland is, among other findings:

  • 105% higher than the EU average for drinks and cigarettes;
  • 88.5% higher for housing;
  • 88% higher for utility bills like electricity and gas;
  • 46.5% higher for the likes of broadband and mobile phones costs;
  • 39% higher for travel by air, train, or sea;
  • 29.5% higher for hotel stays and eating out.

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. 

According to Eurostat, if the price level index of a country is higher than 100, the country concerned is relatively expensive compared to the EU average, while if the price level index is lower than 100, then the country is relatively inexpensive compared to it. 

Cheapest and dearest

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 was a result of differences in taxation.

Outside 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 clothes shopping and a cheap feed, ranking lowest of 36 ranked countries in each category. 

Ireland was also reported as having a high cost for food, with prices almost 17.5% higher than the EU. 

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.

A cost-of-living protest march, part of a national series of protests, at St Patrick's Street, Cork City on Saturday, June 18. Picture: Larry Cummins
A cost-of-living protest march, part of a national series of protests, at St Patrick's Street, Cork City on Saturday, June 18. Picture: Larry Cummins

'Staggering' prices

Consumer information and comparison website described the figures as "staggering", while calling for a Minister for Consumer Affairs to be appointed.

The cost of hotels and restaurants has 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," said the website's spokesperson Daragh Cassidy.

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 Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), and regulators such as the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (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."

Daragh Cassidy of
Daragh Cassidy of

The data comes as Taoiseach Micheál Martin again flatly rejected an emergency budget to deal with spiralling costs, telling the Dáil that it would only exacerbate the situation to "chase inflation".

He said he does believe the crisis "could get worse", but October's budget is the best way to set out a long-term response to the cost-of-living crisis.

He admitted he is "worried about the winter period", saying Russian President Vladimir Putin is leveraging gas supplies against EU countries.

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