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Submitted by Mamta on
Thanks for your message. You raise a good point about what is the right comparator group. The blog focuses on whether the class of 2004 has seen economic growth since entry. (From this perspective, the title of the blog could be improved.) Earlier EU expansions had been associated with income convergence. Gill and Raiser, 2012 go so far as to christen the EU as a “convergence machine” for this achievement. The class of 2004, however, experienced a severe economic shock within a few years of entry, from which the countries are now slowly recovering. Taking the longer perspective of the decade since entry, the blog asks if there has been income convergence along the lines of earlier EU expansions and whether this has reduced poverty.

To answer the larger question of whether the countries have benefitted from EU accession one would arguably need to take an even longer perspective. Some of the benefits of joining the EU flow during the accession process before entry, through the harmonisation of policies and institutions to "higher" standards, and the growth of trade and investment flows. In fact, the class of 2004 grew more rapidly in the run-up to EU entry than afterwards. The same holds for Romania and Bulgaria which joined in 2007.
Country Time period Growth in GDP at market prices  (PPS)
EU-10 1996-2004 60
  2004-12 45
Romania 2000-6 84
  2007-12 26
Bulgaria 2000-6 67
  2007-12 21

Turning specifically to countries such as Turkey and Croatia which were outside the EU during the period in question, we see that income growth is higher than in the EU-10. Income grew by 67 percent in Turkey (2004-11) and 65 percent in Croatia (2004-12). Of course, these countries have their own specific circumstances, with Turkey rebounding from the negative growth of the early 2000s, and Croatia opening EU negotiations in 2005 which could have possibly boosted growth (the recession in Croatia since 2008 would of course have dampened outcomes).

-Mamta Murthi