East’s move to West is highlighted

Most businesses in Central and Eastern Europe believe they face even greater change in the next decade than they have experienced since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, according to Reconnecting Europe, an Andersen Consulting study released today. While almost three quarters of senior executives interviewed say their business is unrecognisable compared with ten years ago, half say the pace of change should have been even faster. The study argues that the forces that continue to drive this far-reaching change range from the fundamental shift in the region’s trade from east to west, to a rekindling of the entrepreneurial spirit in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Speaking at Berlin’s historic Hotel Adlon, which is just metres from the Brandenburg Gate, Vernon Ellis, Andersen Consulting’s managing director for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India, said that an enlarged Europe is already a reality for many businesses in CEE. He added that Germany and other EU economies have replaced the former Soviet Union as the region’s major trading partners. “Many businesses in the region now look to the West for their key markets and partners, while their western counterparts are seizing new opportunities for trade and investment in CEE countries. In this way, Europe is gradually being reconnected,” Ellis said. Ellis also reported that the study had found a growing gulf between the CEE countries which have led the way in privatisation, such as Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, and those where progress has been much slower, such as Bulgaria and Romania. This is mirrored in all the newly capitalist countries by a growing gap between haves and have-nots. “Perhaps the most far-reaching effects of the decade’s momentous events have been on the people of Central and Eastern Europe and the eastern Lander of Germany,” he continued. “In coping with dramatic change, they have shown great flexibility and adaptability – critically important attributes in the fast-moving global economy.”

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