Mintas Hodak, Ljerka (1999) Activities of the Government of the Republic of Croatia in the Process of European Integration. ZEI Discussion Papers: 1999, C 43. [Discussion Paper]
[From the Introduction]. Since the fall of the Berlin wall, which for more than forty years symbolised the lines of division in Europe, central and eastern European countries (CEEC) have quickly moved to adopt the western European model of state, based on democratic institutions, free market economy and the rule of law. Political and economic co-operation has been established between the two parts of the continent, with western countries supporting democratic and pro-market reforms undertaken in CEECs with various assistance programmes. The actual or planned accession to western organisations has been conditional on the implementation of reforms, policies and legal regulations which would make CEECs' political and economic systems very similar to that existing in the western countries. This process of rapid institutional convergence is a welcome phenomenon as it removes a potential for conflicts arising from ideological and systemic differences between countries. It has also made many observers and politicians to believe that, after centuries of wars, conflicts and divisions, Europe is eventually going to emerge as a homogenous region, with shared values and similar institutional and political characteristics in individual countries. Yet the continent is still far from being a homogenous and conflict-free area. The collapse of communism may have eliminated much of the political divisions in Europe, but it could not, by itself, reduce the economic disparities. As a matter of fact, at the end of the 20th century and nearly ten years after the transition began, Europe is still deeply divided, with average per capita incomes in the eastern part four-to-five times lower than those in the western part. What is, however, even more worrying, is that the gap is not likely to significantly narrow any time soon. The economic transition was initially associated with deep recessions, and then it has progressed at a very uneven pace across CEECs. The most successful transition countries managed to stabilise their economies, introduced market and structural reforms right from the start of transformation, and embarked on steady growth path. But even those countries have not yet reached - after almost a decade of transition - their pre-transition growth levels. Some transition countries are still in deep recession and only few market reforms have been implemented so far. It can be clearly seen that the group of transition countries has been gradually breaking into two categories: fast reformers and slow reformers. This process may be further exacerbated by the impact of respective European Union and NATO enlargement. As a result, we may witness a new dividing line emerging - this time separating more advanced and less advanced transition countries. This would certainly be an unwelcome outcome of the political breakthrough of 1989. Such a situation must be avoided with a joint effort of EU and transition countries.
|Social Networking:|| |
Actions (login required)