COVID-19: Poland catching up with West due to pandemic

The latest International Monetary Fund data on per capita income for 2020, taking into account the real purchasing power of national currencies, showed that countries which liberated themselves from communism or were a part of the Soviet Union only three decades ago, have now surpassed some of the leading Western countries.

Poland (EUR 28,400 per capita) cannot compete with Western powers yet. However, the fact that Poland’s GDP is to decrease by only 3.6% this year may result in greatly reducing the distance to Southern European countries. For the first time this year, the country managed to overtake not only Portugal (EUR 28,200), but also Slovakia (EUR 27,200).

When Poland joined the EU in 2004, it was one of its poorest member states. However, in 2020 it is already ahead of eight countries. Aside from Slovakia and Portugal, Poland has overtaken Hungary (EUR 27,300), Latvia (EUR 25,800) and Greece (EUR 24,500). The remaining three countries; Romania (EUR 25,300), Croatia (EUR 23,400) and Bulgaria (EUR 20,000 have always been poorer than Poland.

There are many indications that the changes in the wealth hierarchy in the EU caused by the virus will prove to be permanent. According to Brussels, even if the economic rebound of the countries most affected by the coronavirus, such as Spain or Italy, are stronger than Poland et al, the bounce will be a one-off. Once COVID-19 has been overcome, only some of the western countries' economic problems will be put to bed. Others are likely to require painful reforms.