EMU Enlargement: Which Concept of Convergence to Apply?
The EU-enlargement in mid-2004 will probably be followed by the accession to the European Monetary and Economic Union (EMU), depending on the individual state of convergence of the accession candidates. As a political rather than an economic decision on EMU enlargement is not beyond imagination, we argue that institutional convergence, in particular central bank independence (CBI), is equally - if not more - important for a successful common monetary policy in Euroland than nominal and real convergence, as it indicates an appropriate policy assignment and thereby fosters real and nominal convergence. The paper starts with an assessment of the state of convergence of CEE countries in nominal and real terms. Based on a constitutional political economy framework and the additional requirement for future EMU members to give their central banks an independent status, we then assess the degree of central bank independence in CEE. We apply a measure, namely the index of monetary commitment, which includes external criteria such as convertibility and exchange rate regimes. It can be shown that the degree of central bank independence in CEE countries is considerably high; however, there is a gap to the ECB's independence with respect to external aspects of CBI.
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