[...] despite its many vicissitudes in practice, post-communist reform was at bottom a simple political project of moving from one system to another by applying tried and tested economic and political principles. [...] there is the overarching political context of the EU.
THEWORLDTODAY.ORG MAY 2009 PAGE 14 GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS – EASTERN EUROPE Seán Hanley, LECTURER IN EAST EUROPEAN POLITICS, SCHOOL OF SLAVONIC AND Caught ınCrısıs Three governments have fallen, the new middle classes are feeling the pain, there is even fear of the emergence of dark forces. Is Eastern Europe in for a torrid time as the economic crisis bites? Can the once magnetic attraction of the European Union counteract the other factors at work? | INDEPENDENT THINKING ON INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS THEWORLDTODAY.ORG MAY 2009 PAGE 15 EAST EUROPEAN STUDIES, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON t HE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS HAS hit central and Eastern Europe hard. The drying-up of external credit and the decline of west European export markets have seen economies across the region contract, leading to rising unemployment, currency depreciation and ballooning deficits. The International Monetary Fund has already agreed bailouts for the most vulnerable economies of Hungary, Latvia and packing if Paris engineered the relocation of Renault’s Slovak car plants to France, provides an early flavour of such a world. Indeed, such a Latin American style vicious circle of social upheaval, populist politics and stop-go economic policy was precisely the future many informed observers envisaged for Eastern Europe in the early 1990s. That this did not occur then was a result of the region’s demobilised societies, more developed welfare systems, and the magnetic attraction of Ukraine and the region as a whole was targeted European Union membership. The prospect of in the support package agreed by the recent joining the EU anchored the transition process G20 summit. The position of the new central in much of the region, serving as both incentive and East European members has also been and symbolic focus for painful reforms. central to European Union (EU) discussions However, many of the factors that made about how best to respond to the crisis, given post-communist transition relatively smooth the temptation of richer west European states and uncontested no longer hold. Two decades
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