A debate on European Union’s economic convergence and integration.

Global recession brought to light the fact that the European Union is at least

a two-hypostases economic area. After two decades from Maastricht Treaty

(European Union, 1992) and 12 years of economic and monetary union (EMU),

the heterogeneity of member-states in terms of growth, labour market, production

composition and income distribution, is considered the crucial factor of EU’s ability

to compete as an uniaxial player in the global arena. In times of the euro currency

circulation, Eurozone as an economic entity is proved to have inflexible and no

unanimous decision-making under the turbulent economic incidence.

It is noteworthy that the orientation of the EU towards the union of economies,

currencies and policies, diverges given the inequalities in the macroeconomic

performances and Maastricht’s criteria conformance (Halmai and Vásáry, 2012).

Moreover, distortions in the business environment emerged, due to reforms forced

to some member-states, altering the status of their economic freedom, the level of

their taxes and wages, their attractiveness to foreign direct investments and trade

efficiency, and finally their economic competitiveness.

In the doorsill of EU’s broadening negotiations (European Union, 2012) with

Montenegro, Serbia, FYROM, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Turkey that coincide

with economic uncertainty and perturbed market conditions, it is crucial to evaluate if

their accession may have ambiguous effects on EU’s sustainability. Considering also

the emerging countries’ constant upsurge into high rates of economic growth (such as

BRIC), the peculiarities of EU and the Eurozone result as a questionable successful

experience (Schneider, 2012).

In respect to this fact, EU unfolds two pillars of member-states according to their

economic status and potentiality. The first pillar includes the member states of North,

the main drivers of competitiveness in the Eurozone. The second pillar subtends the

member-states of South, the diluted economies, lately referred with the acronym


Although a third classification could be ascribed to the transition economies

recently affiliated to EU, in a geopolitical consideration, the Balkan area exhibits

a framework of European acquaintance in the pre-accession process (6 countries)

and accession experience (4 transition economies). It should be considered the fact

that the 50% of EU’s external trade is oriented to the Balkans and Turkey. In their

path forward market economies, a significant amount of foreign direct investments

(FDI) was placed in Balkan countries from EU’s states (Papapanagos and Laspa,

2010). Unexceptionably, Balkans became the third European pole. Therefore, the

regional approach, results as a pivotal factor in developing openness and international

competitiveness at a scale of a debatable convergence and integration in the EU.

Political implications should be investigated assessing the governance performance

and corruption levels as reflected by specific international benchmarking indicators.

For example, the case of Greece and the other member-states of the European South

may have some very profound effects on the short, medium and long term of the

Eurozone as they tend to upset its potential viability by a monetary stroke. Finally,

considering that most of pre-accession countries are economies in transition, related

data corresponding to their path on EU acquis must be evaluated. Eventually, in order

to probe EU’s performance as a unified political and economic entity, its performance

(as an average score of the member-states) should be compared to USA, China,

Russia and other competitive countries.



1. European Union (1992). The Maastricht Treaty: Provisions amending the
Treaty establishing the European Economic Community with a view to
establishing the European Community. 7 February 1992, Maastricht.

2. European Union (2012). EU Candidate and Pre-Accession Countries
Economies Quartely, April 2012.

3. Halmai Péter and Vásáry Viktória (2012). Convergence crisis: economic
crisis and convergence in the European Union. International Economics and
Economic Policy. vol. 9(3) September:297-322.

4. Papapanagos Harry and Laspa Christina (2010). The economic performances
of Greece and the Balkans in the context of the European Economic
integration. Ed. Kritiki, 1st edition, Athens, (text in Greek).

5. Schneider Howard (2012). In euro zone, a convergence that never was. The
Washington Post, August 28 2012.

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