January 25, 2010
I find it a very interesting and also important question to see how similar are the Visegrad countries, i.e. the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia compared to other EU or Eastern-European countries. The more similarities we find in economic performance or structure, or in economic decision, the more likely that the group will share common interests, and it makes more economic and political sense to act as a group against other countries. However, if one or two EU member states are more similar to their other neighbors, they will have a motivation to undermine the V4 group. With my colleagues we are working in such a comprehensive study. We have found some instances, where the Visegrad countries are the most alike in the whole Europe, including non-EU members, but there are very important differences.
Regarding GDP per capita adjusted for the price level, the most important indicator in the EU to assess the development of a country shows that the V4 countries have been in a rather similar economic situation in the 1990s and 2000s. However, Central-European countries could have formed a more similar group. In 1999 the Czech Republic was a positive outlier from the group with a higher income level. Substituting the Czech Republic with Lithuania, we could have got a more homogeneous economic group which would have been continuous in a geographical sense. Further changing Lithuania to Estonia we would have got an even more homogeneous group.Dániel Antal