Households in the European Union spent on average 2.0 percent more on goods and services in the first three quarters of 2006 than in the same period last year. The increase in consumption was larger than this in the Netherlands. Dutch households spent 2.4 percent more than in the first three quarters of 2005.
In the years 2001–2005 consumption growth in the European Union was 1.5 to 2 percent per year. The Dutch growth rates lagged far behind these. Consumption expenditure in the Netherlands rose by an average 0.5 percent a year in this period.
Consumption increase Netherlands and EU-25
In the Netherlands consumption showed a strong recovery in the course of 2005. At the end of 2005 the growth rate surpassed the European average for the first time since the start of 2002. In the first half of 2006, too, consumption increase was higher in the Netherlands than on average in the EU-25. The growth rate fell subsequently. In the third quarter the increase was almost the same as the European average.
Consumption increase in the Baltic states and EU-25
Strong increase in Baltic states
Although the increase in consumption is relatively high again in the Netherlands in 2006, it still lags far behind that in a number of new EU member states. Consumer spending has increased in the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania)in particular. Households in these countries spent about 15 percent more on goods and services in the first half of 2006 than in the first half of 2005.
Along with the Netherlands, Italy and Germany were the countries in the EU with the lowest rate of consumption increase. In Italy just as in the Netherlands, consumption growth picked up again in the first half of 2006. However, the growth there is still below the EU average. In Germany consumption growth was very moderate just as in previous years. In the first three quarters of 2006 German households spent 0.6 percent more than one year previously.
Karin van der Ven