Although the new EU member states are catching up, significant economic and social disparities remain within the EU. The purchasing power of the states that have joined the EU since 2004 (EU-13) is still on average significantly lower than in the other member states. While their basic needs are covered, in terms of wellbeing, and especially opportunities, there are still major differences.
In the first year of the enlargement in Eastern Europe, the purchasing-power adjusted per capita gross domestic product in the new members states was half that of the older EU states. Since then, almost all the new EU member states have been catching up strongly. However, their purchasing power is still significantly lower than the EU average. The remaining economic and social disparities are even bigger if not only the imbalances between the member states are taken into account but also imbalances within these countries.