There is much talk in Europe at the moment about the potential spread of separatist movements, a consequence of Catalonia’s referendum on independence. A number of maps have appeared on the internet pointing to various regions which may be next in line. The spectre of disintegrating states haunts some European Union states and is perceived (or instrumented) as a threat by others. In the eastern part of the EU, there is much talk about the case of the Silesians (some even mention the Kashubians) in Poland, the Hungarians of the Székely Land in Romania and Slovakia, Moravians in the Czech Republic, Russians in Latgale (Latvia), and the historical region of Samogitia in Lithuania.
Prague’s Na Příkopě and Pařížská are the most expensive retail streets in emerging Europe, with monthly rents averaging 220 euros per square metre. Kaunas is Europe’s most affordable retail location, with annual rents standing at just 174 euros per square metre. The figures were published on November 16 in a major new report prepared by real estate agency Cushman and Wakefield.
A new report published by HSBC on November 14 shows growth across emerging Europe exceeding expectations in the third quarter of 2017. Romania (8.8 per cent), Poland (4.7 per cent) and the Czech Republic (5 per cent) all beat previous forecasts, while Hungarian economic growth (3.8 per cent) also picked up pace, but came in a touch below consensus expectations.
The European Commission’s Autumn Economic Forecast, published on November 9, sees growth continuing across those emerging European states which form part of the EU, although the pace of that growth is expected to slow somewhat over the next two years. Almost across the board, private consumer spending is the main driver of growth.
Business and opposition leaders, trade unionists, small firms and even local councils across Romania have condemned an emergency ordinance (OUG) passed by the country’s government on November 8 which transfers the responsibility for paying social contributions from employers to employees. It is claimed that the changes, which take effect from January 1, 2018, will lead to additional costs for business and may mean that workers take home less money each month. Some companies may even be forced to lay workers off. The Romanian currency, the leu, moved past the psychologically crucial 4.6 lei to the euro barrier even before the OUG had been formally approved, hitting its lowest level for over five years.
The European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH), the EBRD and the European Union has launched a new programme committed to helping SMEs get better access to advice for sustainable growth. Tailored business advice will be made available to more than 240 SMEs across Bulgaria and Romania, as well as Greece. The expertise on offer will cover a wide range of areas including strategy, trade promotion, financial management, energy efficiency and marketing.
All 23 economies of emerging Europe are set to record positive growth in 2018, led by Georgia, whose GDP is seen as growing by more than 4.2 per cent. Even Azerbaijan, whose economy has contracted for the past two years, is seen as returning to modest positive growth in 2018. The regional outlook is stable, but a couple of places, notably Romania, are giving cause for concern.
Almost three decades since the fall of communism, emerging Europe brands still do not shine as bright as their western counterparts.
The latest Nation Brands report, published by Brand Finance, shows how Brand Romania, Brand Slovakia, Brand Bulgaria and other nation brands from emerging Europe are much weaker and less valuable than their western neighbours — and with a long way to go before they can carry their economies in times of distress. Perceived higher market risk has also been reflected in lower FDI and M&A flows over the past three decades.
According to Eurostat’s Digital Economy and Society report, 3 per cent of businesses in the EU still do not have an internet connection, with the highest share of these being found in Romania (16 per cent). The report also states that when it comes to mobile connectivity, there is a distinct gap between large businesses, of which 94 percent use a mobile broadband connection, and SMEs, only 69 per cent of whom make use of the technology.
Eastern Europe and Central Asia has closed on average 71 per cent of its gender gap, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report. Overall, 68 per cent of the global gender gap has been closed, a slight deterioration on 2016 and 2015, when the gap was 68.3 per cent and 68.1 per cent respectively.
Georgia is the easiest place in emerging Europe to do business, according to the latest edition of the World Bank’s Doing Business report, which compares conditions for doing business in 190 countries across the world. Among the top 20, Georgia, with a ranking of 9th, has implemented the highest number of business regulation reforms since the launch of Doing Business in 2003—a total of 47.
Despite political tension, eurozone economic confidence rose in October to its highest level in nearly 17 years. The European Commission’s Economic Sentiment Indicator, published on October 30, improved more than expected to 114.0 in October from 113.1 in September. This was the highest since January 2001, when the reading was 144.4. The expected score for October had been 113.3.