The so-called new EU member states (EU10+1) have been converging with the rest, but the process has slowed down in recent years and there are already differences in the group as some are diverging or stagnating in the different categories.
In Index 2018, the five best performing countries by overall score (this is the average of the four categories) are Denmark (1st with 71 points), Sweden (2nd with 70 points), Luxemburg (3rd with 70 points), the Netherlands (4th with 70 points) and Finland (5th with 69 points) in the ranking of 35 countries in on a scale from 100 to 0 points, highest to lowest. The five most poorly performing countries by overall score are BiH (35th with 35 points), Turkey (34th with 22 points), Macedonia (33rd with 24 points), Albania (32nd with 25 points) and Serbia (31st with 29 points).
There are clear geographical patterns in Index 2018 as there is divide especially between the best performing countries in Western core and Northern Europe and those in Southeastern Europe. Thus, the Balkan countries, which include the EU candidates (with Turkey too) and EU member states (including the close neighbor Hungary), are lagging behind in almost all respects.
The long-term trends in the period 2011-2018 show that a number of old EU member states such as Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus as well as Iceland are progressing in recent years, and even Greece shows small signs of improvement, which means many of the crisis-ridden of the 2008 Great Recession countries are recovering.
There are three new EU member states in Index 2018 that are very close to the desired average benchmark of 60 points – Estonia (13th position) with 57 points, the Czech Republic (14th) with 55 points and Slovenia (15th) with 54 points. The success stories of the catching-up show that geography is not necessarily destiny and countries can improve their fortunes.
For the eighth consecutive year, The Catch-Up Index measures and classifies the achievements of 35 countries in Europe – EU and candidate countries – by 47 indicators divided into four categories: economy, democracy, quality of life and governance.
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Full text of the report How Hard Can It Be? Findings of the European Catch-Up Index 2018
The Catch-Up Index is a project of the European Policy Initiative (EuPI) of the Open Society Institute – Sofia.