Encouraging EC progress report on Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has received an encouraging progress report from the European Commission. It appeared on a list of ten "most advanced" candidate countries which Brussels says stand a very good chance of gaining EU entry in a big bang expansion in the year 2004. The Czech Republic as well as eight other candidates were described as "functioning market economies" which, assuming they continue to make sustained progress, would be ready to face competition on the EU market within one to two years. The Czech Republic is seen as a fully developed market economy with stable economic growth and a highly qualified work force. Macro-economic stability is said to have improved over the past twelve months although it is still endangered by a growing external and fiscal imbalance. The report is critical of the widening public finance and current account deficits and the level of corruption and economic crime.