“The Faces of Convergence” is a collection of 34 short essays
The Faces of Convergence e-book is a collection of 34 short essays by people who made major contributions to the process of convergence in the countries that joined the EU in the three waves of eastern enlargement. Contributors come from business, government, banking, research, higher education, and civil society. They share views on the impact of the EU on the convergence process.
The 2004 EU expansion must be viewed as part of a broader process of convergence of the Central and Eastern European countries toward Western Europe. We should start at least from 1989, with the fall of the Berlin wall, a symbol of the collapse of the communist regime. As the Iron Curtain fell, most former communist countries chose membership of the EU as their ultimate goal.
Geographical proximity was an important, but not the only, contributing factor. Most countries wanted to join the EU for its high standards of living, political democracy and more generally a „human“ way of living. Compared to the rest of the world, the EU has the highest quality of life. Therefore, joining the EU has been a bright beacon, helping navigation along the paths of post-communist reforms for many. With the Global Financial Crisis, the light from this beacon was dimmed. It was almost extinguished during the Sovereign debt crisis in Europe. But, by 2014, this crisis had mostly come to an end and the EU still had its 13 newest members. The process of integration is not, however, yet complete, as not all of these members have joined the Eurozone.
For some new EU members the Euro-crisis affected the „attractiveness“ of this later step of joining the Euro. But as European financial system has been considerably reformed since then, with new institutions, new mechanisms and a broader range of monetary policy instruments applied by the ECB, one should expect enlargement of the Eurozone to continue.