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Latest statistics from Eurostat, the statistics arm of the European Commission, show that the poorest EU countries have made up some ground on the rich ones during the financial crash and its aftermath. The nine Member States with the lowest levels of income per person recorded a figure amounting to 55% of the EU average in 2009, 3% higher than in 2007. The 15 countries which are eligible for ‘cohesion funding’, designed to even up income disparities in the Community, were on 72%, up 2% from 2007. The richest members of the club are Germany and Austria while the poorest are Bulgaria and Romania. Within society in all the Member States there are large inequalities in income: on average the top 20% receive five times as much as the bottom fifth. Although inequality in the poorer countries was slightly higher than in the rich ones, the four most equal societies were all from the Cohesion countries, Slovenia and the Czech Republic being the most equitable.
|Eurobarometer survey reveals negative image of chemicals|
|The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has commissioned a survey to investigate perceptions of chemical products among the EU population. Part of the Classification and Labelling regulations, the study also inquired into attitudes to safety instructions and the understanding of hazard symbols. Of the over 26,000 respondents 52% said that they used chemical products at work and 68% regarded them as ‘dangerous’; only 22% saw them as useful. Among EU Member States there was considerable variation in opinion with 90% of Danes agreeing that chemicals were harmful to the environment compared to 34% of Portuguese. Only 33% of Britons see them as unhealthy, less than half the 75% figure in Sweden.|