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EU convergence monitoring hub

Ensuring economic, social and territorial cohesion is one of the objectives of the European Union. Member States and their citizens, by signing up to be part of the EU, have the implicit expectation that EU membership will lead to economic prosperity and social progress, for themselves and everyone across the community.

Upward convergence is defined as an improvement in performance towards a desirable policy target and convergence itself, in other words reducing disparities in performance.

Perform convergence analysis

As part of this monitoring hub, Eurofound has developed a web-based tool to perform analysis of upward convergence for the indicators listed in the Social Scoreboard accompanying the European Pillar of Social Rights, as well as for a selected set of indicators drawn from its European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) and European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS). 

convergEU app


Importance of cohesion

Less developed countries have joined the EU with the aspiration to converge towards the most richer countries, therefore of becoming wealthier and making progress towards better working and living conditions, by reaping the fruits of the internal market. If these expectations of balanced growth and progress are not met, the EU stops being perceived as a win–win scenario and discontent may set in.

For this reason, measuring cohesion and the improvement of economic and social performance is key for understanding the state of the European Union. Cohesion and improvements are measured through upward convergence, that is the analysis of the development of the level of disparities across Member States and regions across time.

While the concept traces back to the treaty of Rome in 1957, the term upward convergence entered in the policy debate as part of the discussion around the European Pillar of Social Rights.

Measuring upward convergence

Measuring upward convergence involves quantifying two concepts, improvement and convergence.

Improvement is usually measured through changes in unweighted averages of Member States’ performance on selected indicators. Unweighted averages are used to give each Member State, or geographical entities,  the same representation and importance in determining the overall trend.

Convergence is measured as a decrease in inequalities or a catch up of least performing countries towards best performing Member States. Convergence could be measured in three different ways, each of which with its own political meaning: 

  • Beta convergence is used to measure whether countries starting from initially low performance levels grow faster than better performing countries. This process is referred to as catching up.
  • Sigma convergence refers to the overall reduction in disparities among countries over time and is measured by the evolution of the statistical measures of dispersion, such as the standard deviation or the coefficient of variation. A decrease in the standard deviation or coefficient of variation over time indicates convergence.
  • Delta convergence is used to analyse countries’ distance from the best performing country. Delta convergence is usually measured through the sum of the distances between the Member States and the top performer.

At the beginning of the 21st century, there was upward convergence between the EU Member States for most of the indicators considered in this analysis. However, social and economic indicators were strongly affected by the financial crisis of 2008, and during the subsequent economic crisis between 2008 and 2013 disparities between the EU Member States tended to increase. These disparities highlight the need for current efforts to bolster Member States’ resilience to economic shocks. It remains to be seen what possible impact COVID-19 will have on European societies in the long term and the implications of this for achieving upward convergence.

Indicators of convergence

As part of its convergence monitoring hub, Eurofound monitors the following indicators.

In addition to these dimensions, convergence analysis is also applied to the policy dimensions covered by the European Child Guarantee. The European Child Guarantee aims to prevent and combat social exclusion by guaranteeing effective access of children in need to early childhood education and care, education, healthcare, healthy nutrition and adequate housing. To provide a snapshot of the direction in which countries have moved so far, an analysis of trends and disparities will be provided as part of this monitoring hub in a dedicated European Child Guarantee section.

For further insights into the methodology and the tools, please visit the convergence methodology page.


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