Monitoring convergence in the European Union

21 November 2017

The European Union is committed to economic, social and territorial cohesion, inclusive growth and upward economic convergence. This means supporting Member States and regions to achieve their full potential and to bring standards of living and prosperity closer together – through overall improvement.

Against this background, the inequalities and diverging patterns noted in Europe in recent years are a cause of concern. They challenge the long-held EU goal to increase European prosperity by reducing economic and social disparities between states and regions.

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To achieve upward convergence, policymakers require evidence on trends and dynamics both within and between Member States, whether or not these trends signal a general worsening of living and working conditions, and whether the distance between groups of Member States or regions is increasing and some groups are moving in different directions. It is essential to understand the causes of divergent trends and to promote tools that can foster convergence in the European Union.

Foundation Forum 2017

Foundation Forum is Eurofound's flagship event which took place on 14–15 November 2017 at Dublin Castle, Dublin, Ireland. Discussions among the 200 high-level participants from Europe and beyond focused on the various perspectives of convergence in Europe. While upward economic convergence is a precondition for social convergence, the main focus was on upward convergence in living and working conditions, including employment.

See all Forum presentations, background papers and programme from the event. 


Upward convergence is seen as a common objective of Economic and Monetary Union and embedding the social element in the heart of policy design and implementation is key to this. The Commission launched the European Pillar of Social Rights on 26 April 2017. As one of the Commission’s current policy priorities, it ‘serves as a compass for the renewed process of convergence across Europe’. 

Eurofound's work

Eurofound monitors convergence in a range of dimensions: socioeconomic factors, employment, social protection, working conditions,  social cohesion and quality of life.

As the socioeconomic context is central for the understanding of other convergence patterns, a set of indicators establishing this context is being monitored, such as per capita real income, access to services, the poverty rate and annual growth rate.

Analysis of convergence in employment is based mainly on the historical development of employment participation. As convergence in social protection is an important but potentially very wide field, Eurofound focuses on a number of broad indicators.

The exploration of convergence in working conditions relies on European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) data for the period 1991–2015, and other statistical sources. Specific indicators related to job quality, like working time or wages, are being selected.

To investigate convergence in social cohesion and quality of life, Eurofound analyses convergence for selected indicators in areas such as subjective well-being, satisfaction with life domains, living conditions, quality of society, social inclusion and social cohesion. Empirical analysis is being performed for the period 1983–2016, drawing also on data from the European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) and other statistical sources.

Finally, Eurofound is exploring the possibility to combine indicators and create summary indices, drawing on the experience of other international organisations. The analyses, building on previous work, will consider clustering countries or regions to understand variation between them.

Ongoing work

  • Concept paper on monitoring convergence in the EU
  • Interim results on socioeconomic environment and convergence in employment in Europe
  • Web-based repository of key indicators for monitoring convergence

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Events (3)