CEE in the maelstrom of the euro zone

A number of CEE countries recorded relatively good growth figures in 2011, including Poland (plus 4.3 per cent) and Slovakia (plus 3.1 per cent). Hungary (plus 1.4 per cent) and Romania (plus 1.9 per cent), too, posted higher growth rates than many industrialised nations. Overall, the economy of Central and Eastern Europe grew by 3.1 per cent in 2011. At plus 4.3 per cent and plus 5.2 per cent, Russia and Ukraine also recorded high economic growth in 2011, and while the Southeastern European growth rate of 1.9 per cent meant that the region outperformed Western Europe in the past year. Given that most of the CEE countries are closely linked to the euro zone, with about 80 per cent of exports going to Europe, the economy lost some momentum in the 4th quarter. Hungary turned into a political problem case for the EU. Since sourcing capital on the international financial markets was difficult, the country needed help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The EU has tried to pressure Hungary into changing a contested amending law. To date, the EU Commission and the Hungarian government have made some headway in bridging the gap between them, but a few creases still need to be ironed out before official talks with the IMF can commence.