Convergence in EMU: What and How?

03-05-2018

Convergence is one of the key goals of the European Union and has been at the centre of many recent debates. This paper strives to identify the types of convergence that are pivotal to the well-functioning of the euro area and discusses their role in the context of the EMU’s governance framework. Evidence suggests that key economic indicators have converged for some member states before coming to a halt (or even diverge) with the onset of the global financial and euro area debt crises. As economic convergence depends mostly on the policies of the member states, we call for a strengthening of national responsibility for structural reforms. We discuss strengths and shortcomings of the recently proposed reform delivery tool and present our proposal of ‘national convergence roadmaps’. We propose that member states can apply for resources from the European Structural and Investment Funds by committing to convergence targets and submitting reform plans in the context of the European Semester. If positively assessed by the European Commission and approved by the Council, the reform efforts could be financially rewarded – conditional on the potential for positive spill-overs, continuous implementation of the reforms and achievement of the convergence targets.

Convergence is one of the key goals of the European Union and has been at the centre of many recent debates. This paper strives to identify the types of convergence that are pivotal to the well-functioning of the euro area and discusses their role in the context of the EMU’s governance framework. Evidence suggests that key economic indicators have converged for some member states before coming to a halt (or even diverge) with the onset of the global financial and euro area debt crises. As economic convergence depends mostly on the policies of the member states, we call for a strengthening of national responsibility for structural reforms. We discuss strengths and shortcomings of the recently proposed reform delivery tool and present our proposal of ‘national convergence roadmaps’. We propose that member states can apply for resources from the European Structural and Investment Funds by committing to convergence targets and submitting reform plans in the context of the European Semester. If positively assessed by the European Commission and approved by the Council, the reform efforts could be financially rewarded – conditional on the potential for positive spill-overs, continuous implementation of the reforms and achievement of the convergence targets.