The past 25 years have seen a dramatic transformation in Europe’s former communist countries, resulting in their reintegration into the global economy, and, in most cases, major improvements in living standards. A recent report we produced in the IMF steps back to review the experience.*
All over the world, words such as “innovation” or “startup” are coming to be a large part of almost every globally oriented, business conversation. That shouldn’t be a surprise if we take into account that “innovation,” and all that comes with it, is the exact factor driving the business of tomorrow.
On 3 December 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced officially that South Stream, which aimed to bring some 63 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year across the Black Sea to Bulgaria, on through South-East Europe to Italy, was dead.
As during its presidency of the Council of the European Union Latvia leads the development and implementation of the EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s Investment Plan in Brussels, the Baltic state continues to show exemplary focus on attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) at home.
For about 20 years, the Swiss franc was the most stable currency and was regarded a “safe haven” by a lot of borrowers but that stability ended along with the financial crisis and that is when the franc started appreciating. Since 2008 or the peak of the crisis, the franc has appreciated against the euro by some 70 per cent.
The economic success Poland has experienced in recent years is not matched with similar achievements in innovation. As further progress is not possible by using only traditional approaches, there is a common understanding among the political and intellectual elite that the country needs to boost the quality of higher education and research.
In the past 25 years Slovakia has undergone a major transformation, leaving behind the inefficiency of a planned economy while still trying to get the most from its post-communist heritage. The combination of a strong industrial background and reforms have facilitated our transition to the market economy and made Slovakia a production, service and commercial hub of Central Europe, and a preferred location for hundreds of major investors from the US, Asia and Europe, mainly in the automotive, electronics and IT/ICT sectors.
With the Latvian economy among the fastest growing in Europe, it is tempting to believe that Latvia not only has recovered from the crisis but also learnt a lesson—there are no shortcuts, fiscal and monetary policy has to be in harmony.
Almost two months have passed since the parliamentary elections of November 30, 2014, one of the most controversial elections in Moldova’s short history as an independent state. Particularly, the elections were marked by a strong geopolitical character, reflecting two strategic integration options: implementation of the Association Agreement with EU versus joining the Customs’ Union “Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan.“
When Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007, they were not particularly welcomed. While the countries that entered the EU in 2004 carried something of a value-added basis, the welcome for Romania and Bulgaria was qualified by a trouble-added basis. The most serious concerns were economic backwardness, political oligarchism, minority issues, especially about the Roma, and unstable legal structures.
In a report published exactly ten years ago on “The Balkans in Europe,” the International Commission on the Balkans called for a process of constitutional change in Bosnia and Hercegovina. It argued that with the present constitutional architecture set out in the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement no longer working, there was a need for a genuine constitutional debate in the framework of an EU accession process.
The way Poland is perceived globally has changed considerably in the last few years. Firstly, because the country enjoys an uncommon, very attractive economic stability and, secondly, because of a unique Polish feature — our extraordinary human capital. The recent economic crisis has enabled Poles to demonstrate their common sense and optimism.