Gros, Daniel. (2001) Health not Wealth. CEPS Policy Brief No. 2, April 2001. [Policy Paper]
Health, and not wealth, should be the decisive criterion when considering the prospects of the Central and Eastern European candidates for EU membership and the capacity of the EU to enlarge. Viewed from this perspective, the outlook is promising. The CEECs are still very poor, compared to most of the existing EU members, but they are also much more dynamic. Their growth rates are generally expected to remain around 4-5% for the foreseeable future, compared to about 2-3% for the EU. This still implies that full catch-up in terms of GDP per capita will take decades, rather than years, but full catch-up is not the relevant goal if one is concerned about enlargement. Experience in the EU has shown that problems are much more likely to arise from established rich member countries with stagnant economies (Belgium in the 1980s and part of the 1990s) than poor, but more dynamic states (e.g. Portugal and Ireland today). The fact that most of the so-called ‘periphery’ is now experiencing stronger growth than the ‘core’ confirms that EU integration benefits poorer countries even more.
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