Slovenia top performer among Central and East European new EU states

Photo: European Commission

Slovenia has been ranked as the top performer among eight Central and East European countries which joined the European Union just over two years ago. The index of performance as an EU member state is put out by the World Economy Institute in Hungary. It ranks Slovakia and Poland towards the bottom of the ladder. Sandor Laczko of Radio Budapest spoke to the senior researcher at the Institute, Krisztina Vida:

Photo: European Commission
The eight country studies were written analysing the political situation, the social landscape, the integration performance, the economic developments and competitiveness of these countries - their preparedness for economic and monetary union as well as their citizens' opinions on EU membership.

How do you manage to indicate all of these in a comparative report?

"The main findings are actually very complex but we tried to express the performance of these countries in a numerical way and we actually apply an index of performance as a member state - the PMS index - which is a cumulative average or a simple average of two sub-indices. One of them is the functioning as a the member state sub index and the other is the economic performance: these comprise political stability, absorption rate of the structural funds, legal transportation data, GDP growth, GDP per capita, unemployment or, of course the important Maastricht convergence criteria.

"On the second anniversary of EU membership, there are two countries leading the group of the eight states. The first is Slovenia, which has by far the best performance in both functioning as a state and economic performance. Slovenia is closely followed by Estonia. Then comes a middle group, where we find Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Latvia. And these are followed by a group with a weaker performance - Slovakia and Poland."

Photo: European Commission
In this comparison the Visegrad countries, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, are placed quite differently. Are there any criteria in which the Visegrad group show a homogenous picture?

"Yes, we can definitely differentiate between the Visegrad countries and the rest, when it comes to compliance with the Maastricht convergence criteria. Here we can see that the smaller states seem to be more ready to enter the euro-zone and introduce the single currency. Slovenia will introduce the single currency at the beginning of next year. It might be followed in 2008 by Estonia and Lithuania. A year later, in 2009, Latvia and Slovakia might join the group. So, it seems that the three bigger sized new member states will introduce the euro the latest. Among them the best performer is the Czech Republic, which has good chances to introduce the euro by 2010 unlike Hungary and Poland. Hungary, especially has the biggest problems complying with the necessary criteria."