Edited by Klaus Liebscher, Josef Christl, Peter Mooslechner and Doris Ritzberger-Grünwald
Klaus Liebscher, Josef Christl, Peter Mooslechner and Doris Ritzberger-Grünwald 2004 saw the completion of the ﬁfth EU enlargement since 1972 as eight Central and Eastern European countries and two Mediterranean islands became members of the European Union (EU). This was an unprecedented event in EU history, both with respect to the number of countries and the number of citizens newly integrated into the EU at one go. Enormous, ongoing political and institutional eﬀorts have paved the way for this development that was all but inconceivable 15 years ago. Mirroring this process, a wide range of economic questions have emerged. Some are fundamental ones, mainly related with the transition process as such. Others have a clear link to the macroeconomic policy framework set up by the old EU member states. Several questions have been solved in the meantime; privatization, for instance, is no longer a major issue. But at the same time new challenges have appeared on the horizon, reﬂecting diﬀerent adjustment speeds across sectors, a lack of macroeconomic policy coordination or newly arising conﬂicts of interest. Right from the beginning of the transformation process, the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB) has closely followed issues on Central and Eastern Europe that were perceived as important from a central banker’s view. Austria’s historical links and its geographical situation may have been the ﬁrst incentives to do this. Nowadays economic considerations prevail, as trade relations, foreign direct investment (FDI) patterns, and developments in ﬁnancial markets, especially the banking sector, clearly...