Czech economic performance among the worst of EU candidates

The Czech Republic's economic performance has worsened in the second quarter of 2002, sending the country to the bottom of the table of EU candidate countries. GDP growth in the second quarter slowed to 2.5 percent year-on-year, from 2.8 percent in the first quarter. It is the worst result since the end of 2000. However, economic analyst Petr Zahradnik of the Conseq Finance company says the result is not as bad as it may seem:

"In comparison with most European countries as well as with the United States, the Czech GDP result in the second quarter is not a disappointment. The main factor is the investment activities where it is possible to observe some deceleration in comparison with previous quarters. On the other hand, the household consumption remains relatively very strong, and there is also a visible improvement in net export."

Nevertheless, the vast majority of the other EU candidates recorded better results than the Czech Republic. The fastest growing economies are those of the Baltic states which posted GDP growth of 6 percent in the second quarter. The Czech Republic is near the bottom of the list, followed only by Slovenia and Poland, whose GDP growth is estimated at less than one percent. Although the EU economy grew by only 0.7 percent, experts say the Czech Republic and the other newcomers will need several decades to come up to the EU level.