TS: I am very pessimistic. We live in a world of divergence and not of convergence. However, more convergence can be achieved across the European Union. Firstly, institutions matter. They matter as they enable governments to work in an efficient and effective way. Therefore, the legal framework of any state is important. Secondly, a country has to guarantee people the necessary educational framework in order to help its citizens develop their individual capacities and skills, and increase their individual knowledge. If the institutions work, the long-term effect will be that both economic and societal incentives are provided, encouraging educated citizens to remain in their home country.
A good example within the EU is Ireland. Ireland was a relatively poor country in the past, with high rates of emigration and political instability. However, in the last 25 years Ireland has managed to convince young citizens not to leave the country and to invest into their future in Ireland. The inclusive institutions created in Ireland endured the effects of the 2008 financial crisis. Such institutions have now seen Ireland exceed the levels of economic growth expected before the crisis. Ireland is a good case that has to be analysed in order to understand how convergence across the EU can be achieved.
This is an excerpt from the interview I conducted with Thomas Straubhaar, professor of Economics at the University of Hamburg. It was published for Politheor. To continue reading it, click on the following link.