Winners and Losers of EU Integration: Policy Issues for Central and Eastern Europe

By Helena Tang | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
Bulgaria and Romania
Economic Policy Institute, Sofia
Center for the Study of Democracy, Sofia

Introduction

During the past decade, Bulgaria and Romania have lagged behind the other Central European countries in restructuring and modernizing their economies. While major steps have been taken toward market-oriented reforms, both countries have experienced a slower and more controversial transformation process. In addition, they have been suffering from repeated problems of macroeconomic slowdown and internal and external disequilibria, including a high level of foreign indebtedness.

In their bid for accession to the EU, Bulgaria and Romania have to speed up reform measures to make up for their lower rates of economic growth and transformation to a market economy during the first half of the decade, and to catch up with the more advanced transition countries of Central and Eastern Europe already negotiating their entry into the EU.

During the second half of the 1990s, Bulgaria and Romania entered into a period of more profound and consistent reform measures in the areas of privatization, enterprise restructuring, building institutions, and administrative capacity. The reintegration into the world economy for both countries, experiencing the difficulties of servicing their external indebtedness, is proceeding with the more active support of international financial institutions. Nonetheless, Romania and Bulgaria still lag in their ability to cope with the competitive pressures and market forces within the EU.1

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