One of the objectives of the European economic integrationproject, as it is laid out in Treaty texts but also infundamental policy programmes such as the cohesionand regional policies, has been the reduction of economicand social disparities among its Member States. This hasbeen a particularly attractive promise for poorer MemberStates joining the EC/EU at various stages of enlargement,including the last large wave in 2004. Up until 2008,when the global financial crisis began, the objective hadbeen achieved to varying extents (see Figures 1.3 and 1.5).The 2008–2017 period, however, saw a slowdown of theconvergence process, whereby Member States with relativelylower GDP per capita grew at faster rates than those withhigher GDP per capita (figure 1.4), while overall within theEU28 there have been indications of ‘upwards divergence’(figure 1.5), that is, of a rising average GDP per capita forthe area as a whole, with a wider dispersion of real GDP percapita across Member States (Mascherini et al. 2018).
more information in Benchmarking Working Europe 2019 chapter 1 'Macroeconomic developments in Europe: tackling the growth, inequality and climate change challenges'