Baltic news portals in the early days of 2017 had spread the news: the statistics division of the United Nations now considers the Baltic countries to the affluent North Eastern Europe is problematic. As it turned out, the journalists got it wrong after Latvian MEP and former Minister Artis Pabriks, who announced the change on Twitter. In fact, the statistical membership of the Baltic States has not changed at least since 2002, which accounts for the earliest version of the relevant page of the UN in the online archive.
Despite this, the issue remains more than relevant, since the Baltic elites of Northern Europe is not just statistics. This is another step further away from the Soviet bloc to the club of developed countries, part of which would become. No wonder Pabriks, explaining on Twitter the advantages of the “new” regional division, first pointed out its importance for the cultural identity of the Baltic peoples.
About the same an important symbolic value for Latvia was accession to the Organization for economic cooperation and development in July 2016. In the absence of common borders between developed and developing exactly the membership of the OECD was the criterion by which the state is often defined in the first of these categories. “Spectrum” has decided to look at the facts and see whether the desire of the Baltic States to dissociate itself from Eastern Europe and its actual capabilities.
The economic dimension
The index of human development (HDI) is a popular comprehensive measure that evaluates the overall level of development of the country by several parameters, including GDP, life expectancy, quality of education, and inflation. The result of the Latvia — 0,819, Lithuania — 0,839, Estonia — 0,861, which is comparable with the most successful Eastern European countries (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary) but less than the Nordic level (above 0.9 or so). In the CIS countries this figure is below 0.8, according to the report, 2015.
If the HDI is divided into components, the GDP per capita at PPP in the Baltic States ranges from 24 to 29 thousand dollars, according to the world Bank for 2015. Hungary, Slovakia and Poland also falls within these boundaries, the Czechs ahead. But in Northern Europe the per capita GDP consistently exceeds 40 thousand dollars, and in Norway reaches 61 thousand dollars unattainable figures, even for Estonia.
The social dimension
A distinctive feature of Northern Europe (above all its nucleus — Scandinavia) is a market economy with strong social support. For many migrants access to the welfare system and the related guarantees of well-being are often a key driver for obtaining, say, Swedish citizenship. In the ranking of the Global AgeWatch Index, designed to assess the quality of life of older generations, Norway and Sweden followed immediately leading Switzerland. Iceland, UK, Denmark, Finland and Ireland were in 2015 in the top 15.
Estonia was ranked 23rd, Latvia — 35, Lithuania — 63 that, in General, does not allow them to select from a number of Eastern European countries: the Czech Republic (22nd), Poland (32), Hungary (39), Slovakia (40), but again differs from other post-Soviet republics: Belarus (64), Russia (65) and Ukraine (73).
Life expectancy is typically high in the North and West of Europe (from 80 to 83 years) in Latvia and Lithuania is 74 years old, and in Estonia — 77, reported by the world Bank at the end of 2014. In the Czech Republic as the current babies will on average live to 78 years, in Poland and Slovakia, 77, Hungary — 76, in Bulgaria and Romania 75. Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians in this setting is also behind the former partners in the CMEA and the Warsaw Pact.
The military-political dimension
And although the UN stresses that the division of Europe into sub-regions is not concerned with political or other binding States, membership in international structures becomes a factor for them of belonging to a certain group of countries. Northern Europe primarily includes the European Union (excluding Iceland, Norway, and some of the Autonomous Islands), NATO (with the exception of Sweden and Finland) and the OECD. This Baltic order: Republic joined the European Union and military Alliance at the same time in 2004, and then Tallinn even before Riga joined the OECD (the application is still considered to be Vilnius).
In addition, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, all three States received the observer status in the Nordic Council, which allows their citizens to freely participate in its projects, including in the field of education. Finally, the question of the introduction of the Euro, Estonia was again ahead of Latvia and Lithuania, but for Northern Europe it does not really matter: Sweden has kept the crown in the UK for sure now long the pound, and the Icelanders and Norwegians in the EU, and especially not going.