The efficiency of using one kilogram of raw materials in the European Union has increased from 1.2 to 2.2 euros in the past two decades. European leaders managed to squeeze more than 5 euros. Poland has doubled its economic efficiency during this time, but one kilogram of raw materials still gives us less than 1 euro in revenue.
Productivity in the use of raw materials is neither the only nor entirely objective measure of economic efficiency. However, it does illustrate the level of individual countries ’dependence on raw materials, and thus says a lot indirectly about their industrial progress and on a larger scale – the economic -. The rule, not only European, is to systematically increase income at lower and lower average cost. This is not always the case.
The Eurostat review of the efficiency of the use of raw materials (comparative data ends in 2019) shows that it increased in the European Union by more than 80% from 2000 to 2019. In 2019, when counting in euros (or converting to euros), it was the highest efficiency in the year 2019 in the Netherlands (5.32 € per kg of raw materials).
Leaders in this regard were also – and then still part of the European Union – Great Britain (4.46 euros) and Luxembourg (4.45 euros). However, Switzerland overtook all of these countries that remained outside the European Union (€ 6.92).
Comparative data shows that the wealth of the four countries does not depend on raw materials, but on the way they are used, and on the development of other types of economic activity (mainly services) that do not require raw materials that are difficult and expensive at all.
For comparison – the Polish economy at the same time brought in only 80 cents of income from every kilogram of raw materials used.
The reason is generally not very economical compared to other EU countries, its consumption. According to other Eurostat cross-sectional data, the average population of our country consumes 17.6 thousand. Tons of all kinds of raw materials (minerals, nonmetals, fuels, biomass) per year. It’s over 30 percent. More than the average consumption in European Union countries. In our case, this fuel statistic is overestimated
When comparing actual economic efficiency and, by the way, the actual standard of living, it is best to use prices that take into account the average person’s purchasing power parity (PPS). Taking into account, the Dutch economy is the most efficient in Europe (4.55 € according to PPS from 1 kg of raw materials). Even the Swiss economy is losing. In this approach, the Polish economy performs slightly better (1.30 €) than if the simple conversion of zloty to the European currency. Most of the economies of our part of Europe, as well as Finland, are worse off.
It is worth paying attention to the dynamics of changes in the efficiency of the use of raw materials in the past two decades. In terms of purchasing power parity, it has improved in Ireland during this period. Back in the year 2000, the Irish economy was able to generate 75 cents of income from every kilogram of raw materials. By 2019, in a single generation, this efficiency has more than tripled, to € 2.44. The Spanish economy is a bit lagging behind in this respect (an increase of 197%). The efficiency of the Polish economy increased – according to the PPS – by 107 percent during that period.
The two decades are a long period during which economic efficiency sometimes declines. Over the past decade – from 2010 to 2019 – a decrease in efficiency has been observed in five European countries. Strongest in the case of the Hungarian economy (down by 22.9% according to the PPS) and the Romanian (down by 16.5%).
At that time, the Polish economy improved its efficiency faster than the entire European Union (an increase of 38.4 per cent against the average EU growth of 27.7 per cent).