currency union, EMU, Euro, Europe, Maastricht criteria, nominal convergence, CASE Reports, real convergence, Southern Europe, CASE Network Studies and Analyses, Trade, economic integration and globalization

Nominal and Real Convergence in Spain, Portugal and Greece During Their Accession to the EMU


This paper reports the progress of nominal and real convergence of Spain, Portugal and Greece during their accession to the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). When the EMU was designed, it was hoped that it would induce nominal convergence (convergence of interest rates and inflation rates) and stimulate investments and economic growth through its positive microeconomic effects. As had been expected, nominal interest rates have converged quite early during the accession, output has been growing fast, and the countries experienced an inflow of foreign direct investments (FDI) and an increase of domestic investment rates. However, once within the EMU, all three countries experienced persistently higher inflation rates, which may be consistent with the convergence of price levels, instead of  inflation. While all the above phenomena can be related to the EMU accession, in an econometric estimation for Spain in which we control for macroeconomic policies, we are unable to detect significant microeconomic effects of the EMU. Therefore, we conclude that it is the policies induced by the necessity to satisfy the Maastricht criteria that matter primarily for the macroeconomic performance soon after accession. In any case, the experience of the SPG is encouraging for the new member states facing accession to the EMU in the future.