Countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEECs) displayed in recent years sustained growth rates that brought about a gradual process of convergence with the rest of the EU, albeit at a different rate and to different extents. The international financial and economic crisis has uncovered some of the weaknesses of these economies, slowing down or stopping the economic growth of some CEECs, but overall this group of countries has clearly shown to be able now to cope even with severe external shocks. In particular, Poland emerged having a very stable economic performance, being in 2009 the only EU country with a positive GDP growth, and maintaining in 2010 and 2011 a growth rate twice as high as the EU average. Currently, all CEECs, in spite of the income gap that still exists with the rest of the EU, exhibit quite satisfactory macroeconomic indicators: positive GDP growth rates, public deficits and inflation under control, and a stable or declining unemployment rate. In comparison with the initial phases of the international crisis, the direction of a possible contagion in the EU appears now to be reversed, and there are more fears of a negative shock starting in the EU15 and propagating to the new EU members than vice versa.
This positive outlook for the CEECs also presents some uncertainties and risks. The CEECs still have a too high dependence from the rest of the EU, and in particular from the German business cycle. Furthermore, some structural reforms of the labor market and of the financial markets – long postponed – are still waiting to be implemented, but these are necessary to complete the transition process and guarantee more stability to these economies.