Petrovic, M., 'Defining the European Union's Eastern Border: Milenko Petrovic Assesses the Importance and Limits of the European Union's Eastern Enlargement for the Success of European Post-Communist (Re)integration', New Zealand International Review, Vol. 35, No. 3 (2010)
Twenty years after the collapse of east European communism, it is obvious that transition from a communist dictatorship to multi-party democracy and from a command economy to a market economy has had strict limits. Only those ex-communist countries that were able to link their political and socio-economic reforms with association with the European Union and the accession process from the very beginning of their post-communist development have successfully negotiated the process. Many gloomy predictions and expectations were expressed throughout the 1990s, primarily concerning the negative consequences of the deep initial transitional economic crises and a corresponding lack of popular support for reforms throughout post-communist eastern Europe. Nonetheless, eight east central European and Baltic states have succeeded in solidly building and consolidating the function of institutions of multi-party democracy and market economy. While these eight have, therefore, been rewarded with European Union membership as of 1 May 2004, among the other post-communist European states only three 'late transitionists' from south-eastern Europe have shown signs of the ability to follow the same successful post-communist development path. Bulgaria and Romania were admitted to the European Union in 2007, and, together with Croatia, an official candidate for EU membership since 2004, they continue speedily to introduce market reforms. Even so, they face some problems in consolidating the institutions of democracy, especially regarding the spread of corruption and the involvement of organised crime in the functioning of government institutions.