Real Divergence: How to Fix It?
Economic convergence used to be high on the agenda of European integration. But 25 years of functioning of the single market and 20 years of existence of the euro have increased, rather than decreased, national and regional differences in economic performance. Even before the 2008–2009 economic crisis and the subsequent sovereign debt crisis, divergences were manifest, though largely ignored. Since then, real economic divergences have widened and the underlying causes deserve attention. Among them, the rather poor performance of cohesion policies implemented with the European budget seems significant. Current debates about the future and the financing of the European Union (EU) budget will be analyzed in the light of economic convergence. Particular attention is devoted to the proposal recently made by the Commission for a new Multiannual Financial Framework covering the period 2012–2027 that includes significant changes in the main EU common policies (CAP and Cohesion policies), as well as more minor changes on the revenue side of the EU budget.
KeywordsEconomic divergence Unit labor costs Productivity EU budget Structural funds
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