Greece's accession to the EU and its integration process
Gürzel, Günay Aylin
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European integration has affected regions in various ways and it has created economic winners and losers. Reform of European regional policy and the creation of the Structural Funds have drawn countries more closely into the EU policy process. Countries have formed a queue to enter the EU and get a share of the structural funds that EU gives out to member countries. This thesis examines Greece's experience as a member of the European Union (EU). While evaluating the Greek experience within the EU, we derive three significant policy lessons that apply both to similar countries, in particular Turkey, now on the queue to join in the club. First, countries that enter the EU must improve the structural deficiencies of their economies before entry in order to minimize the impact of increased competition after the removal of trade protection and trade barriers. In addition, they should follow domestic policies that maintain and promote their comparative advantage within the EU. Second, the ‘Convergence Criteria’ have proven to be a successful mechanism for countries with a poor policy record to achieve macroeconomic stability, as shown in the case of Greece when it demonstrated a clear will to join the European Monetary Union (EMU). This suggests that if there is a motivation the government can indeed better the macroeconomic balances of a certain country. Third, common EU policies can be very helpful in facilitating structural reforms in small economies. Yet, these policies must be continuously evaluated and improved so that their effectiveness could be maximized because conditions change and nothing remains the same in this rapidly changing world.
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