The new EU member states in Central and Eastern Europe have successfully mastered the transition from planned to market economies. They have made great and impressive progress in reforms and growth. Nevertheless, although there is considerable diversity, their average living standard still lags significantly behind the EU average. Hence, there remains a considerable need for further fiscal and structural reforms to advance their economies. In searching for future economic policy orientations and best practices, Central and Eastern European countries might be tempted to look across the Atlantic rather than closer to home. This reaction seems at first sight natural, in particular if per capita income and growth figures over recent years are compared between the EU and the US. This contribution tries to put things into perspective by pointing at the strong accession-related catching-up process experienced by the new member states and the opportunities offered by the EU policy framework. It puts a special focus on the relation between budgetary consolidation as privileged by the Stability and Growth Pact and structural reforms as emphasized by the Lisbon agenda.
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