Half of European Union countries are experiencing economic imbalances that differ widely, the EU Commission said, as the bloc discusses how to improve convergence among its 27 members after Brexit. 

In a regular check-up of EU governments' economic policies and achievements, the Commission renewed its warning that gaps that are harmful to the whole bloc not being addressed in several states.

It also said that a growing number of member states face shortfalls. 

As economic growth slows, "challenges vary significantly across countries and call for appropriate and determined policy action," the Commission said in its report. 

13 states were rebuked for their economic imbalances, two more than in last year's assessment. 

Of them, Italy, Greece and Cyprus were found to have "excessive" shortfalls which would require swift corrective action. 

The Commission was mostly worried by the high ratio of bad loans in their banking sectors and their large public and private debt. 

Bulgaria, Germany, Ireland, Spain, France, Croatia, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Sweden also have imbalances although less acute than the three Mediterranean states, the commission said. 

Croatia's imbalances are no longer considered excessive. 

None of these countries have sufficiently narrowed the gaps the Commission had highlighted in a report last year, in a sign that EU's fiscal recommendations have so far been largely ignored in national capitals. 

Problems also differ among countries, with France affected by low productivity, Italy hit by high unemployment and debt and Germany lagging on investments.

On Ireland, the Commission said the country's large stocks of private and public debt and net external liabilities constitute vulnerabilities. 

But it added that stock imbalances are under substantial correction. 

"The activities of multinational firms with little connection to the domestic economy heavily influence net foreign liabilities which are falling on the back of large current account surpluses," the Commission said. 

The activities of multinational enterprises continue to influence corporate debt, it added.

It also said that household debt appears broadly in line with fundamentals although it is high compared with disposable income. 

The Commission further noted that house prices have been growing at a rapid pace for a number of years but have slowed down recently. 

House prices here are largely driven by supply constraints and there is no clear evidence of overvaluation, the report stated. 

The EU monitoring was launched after the 2008-09 global financial crisis to address national economic imbalances that could weaken the EU economy. 

However, major shortfalls have not been tackled by EU states. For example, Italy's large public sector debt has not dropped and Germany has maintained an excessive trade surplus. 

Structural reforms have also stalled in recent years in many countries of the bloc. 

"To unlock the full growth potential of our economies, we need structural reforms," the Commission's vice-president in charge of financial stability Valdis Dombrovskis said in a statement. 

In a bid to address these shortfalls and lower economic divergences among EU states, the Commission last year proposed to set up a €25 billion EU fund to help countries that embark on structural reforms, such as of their pensions systems or labour markets. 

Germany and France, the two largest countries of the bloc, supported the cash-for-reform plan in a blueprint agreed last week, but a fund will only be set up if there is backing from all EU states. 

But not all countries support the plan. 

If agreed, the fund could begin financing reforms from 2021 when the new long-term EU budget will start.