Elisa Ferreira, the European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, states that the countries of the East have managed, in the last seven years, to increase their GDP 5 percent, but the countries of the South and Southeast “are stagnating and falling behind”.

“For the European model to survive, it has to deal with the growth trap that leads countries to grow to a certain point and then stagnate”, explains Elisa Ferreira.

According to a report by ECO, the commissioner explained that, in the countries of Southern and South Eastern Europe, after “the first structural investment deficiencies are addressed, namely through investments in infrastructure, countries end up stagnating in a kind of growth trap”.

The growth is evident after the investments in roads, basic sanitation networks, which bring a “very big impetus in terms of development”, which is even greater the more qualified and cheaper the labour is, but as soon as they reach per capita income levels of 75 percent of the European average, countries seem to “not be able to surpass this”, adds Elisa Ferreira.

Recognising that the phenomenon requires reflection, the Commissioner recalls that cohesion funds are a long-term strategy, with proven and recognised evidence. “The World Bank considers Europe to be a convergence machine. Cohesion Policy is essential to keep Europe together, but of course, we can always discuss improvements,” she adds.