By Lili Bayer
Summary The European Union’s eastern members, who became members of the bloc in several rounds of expansion starting in 2004, are highly exposed to Western Europe economically. Countries like Poland, Hungary and the Baltic states need access to European labor markets to avoid unemployment crises at home. They also benefit from high levels of funding from the European Union, while investments and exports to Western Europe continue to drive the region’s economies. Economic stability and growth prospects in the EU’s eastern member states thus depend on both the fate of the European Union and the trajectory of Western European economies.
At Geopolitical Futures, we have discussed extensively the fragmentation of Europe, the exporters’ crisis impacting Germany and the troubles facing southern European economies. Last week, we outlined how Germany’s economic challenges could affect Central Europe. As Europe’s crises deepen, however, another element of the bloc’s