n.34 February 2011

Eastern economies continue to possess momentum, driven by the strong performance of the German economy and the limited impact of the crisis on so-called “periphery” of the Eurozone. Industrial production has grown by double-digits in most countries of the region (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Ukraine, Turkey).

A number of nations are attempting to act on proposals presented by the so-called Stiglitz Commission, which was charged with examining the prospects for measuring national wellbeing outside the longstanding context of GDP. At the same time, establishing common indicators to measure happiness has proved daunting. The most promising moves may come from a Franco-German panel that has recommended a ‘dashboard’ of economic and social measurements in an effort to determine the mood of a nation and its people.

Soon after ouster and execution of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, Romanian and Hungarian residents of the city Târgu Mures clashed. The ethnic fighting was the worst in the immediate post-Berlin Wall period. Since then, the city has become something of a Romanian bastion, with ethnic Hungarians moving away in droves. Despite peaceful co-existence, palpable tension remains. While the two sides intermingle, they’re hardly united. . It’s a 20-year-old wound that won’t go away.

For the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, 2011 presents interesting challenges. As the European Union takes a new tack, the region’s individual nations will need to consolidate economic growth face electoral challenges in an effort to ensure political stability, lately under siege as a result of the implementation of austerity measures that characterized 2010.