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European Integration and Income Convergence : Lessons for Central and Eastern European Countries


  • Carmela Martin
  • Francisco J. Velazquez
  • Bernard Funck


The prospect of enlarging the European Union (EU) to Central and Eastern European countries with income levels far below those of present members, questions how, and when the candidates' aspiration to converge towards EU standards of living, could possibly by fulfilled. To address these questions, this paper seeks to assess of the convergence experience of the four less developed EU members, i.e., Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and Greece, after joining the EU, and, to explore what lessons can be learned from that experience. The discussion suggests that, while theoretically possible, there is little empirical reason to fear that European integration would cause economies to diverge. Rather than being spontaneous, however, real convergence would seem to depend crucially, on the capacity of countries to tap international technological spillovers, particularly through foreign direct investment. Macroeconomic stability, effective competition on goods, and factor markets, and, a good human capital endowment are essential to harness benefits. Nonetheless, lingering worries about the possibility that integration would lead to real divergence between countries, or regions of Europe, has led to the creation of large transfers under the EU's Regional Policy. Pending more conclusive evidence of their effectiveness, the candidate countries would seem wise to put greater store by those domestic policies, than by EU grants to fuel their convergence.

Suggested Citation

  • Carmela Martin & Francisco J. Velazquez & Bernard Funck, 2001. "European Integration and Income Convergence : Lessons for Central and Eastern European Countries," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13968, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbpubs:13968

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sapir, Andre & Aghion, Philippe & Bertola, Giuseppe & Hellwig, Martin & Pisani-Ferry, Jean & Rosati, Dariusz & Vinals, Jose & Wallace, Helen, 2004. "An Agenda for a Growing Europe: The Sapir Report," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199271498.
    2. Pawel GAJEWSKI & Jakub KOWALSKI, "undated". "Price Convergence in the European Union Countries," EcoMod2004 330600057, EcoMod.
    3. Mihail Busu & Adina Gyorgy, 2016. "Real Convergence, Steps from Adherence to Integration," The AMFITEATRU ECONOMIC journal, Academy of Economic Studies - Bucharest, Romania, vol. 18(42), pages 303-303, May.
    4. Matkowski, Z. & Prochniak, M., 2004. "Real Economic Convergence in the EU Accession Countries," International Journal of Applied Econometrics and Quantitative Studies, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 1(3), pages 5-38.
    5. Ivan Angelov, 2004. "Accelerated Economic Development – Theory and Practice," Economic Thought journal, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences - Economic Research Institute, issue 1, pages 3-33.
    6. Eftychia Tsanana & Constantinos Katrakilidis, 2014. "Do Balkan economies catch up with EU? New evidence from panel unit root analysis," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 641-662, November.
    7. Aleksejs Melihovs & Igors Kasjanovs, 2011. "The Convergence Processes in Europe and Latvia," Discussion Papers 2011/01, Latvijas Banka.
    8. Istvan Benczes & Balazs Szent-Ivanyi, 2015. "The European Economy in 2014: Fragile Recovery and Convergence," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53, pages 162-180, September.


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