Growth is strengthening and broadening across Europe, driven by buoyant domestic demand (Figure 1.1). Following a pickup in economic activity in the second half of 2016, the European economy accelerated further in the first half of 2017, with growth outcomes surprising on the upside in most countries.
The countries of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe (CESEE) have made major progress in raising living standards over the past two and a half decades. This progress was supported by a radical transformation of their economies and institutions. Using case studies and empirical analysis, this chapter explores the role of internal and external factors, particularly accession to the European Union (EU), in supporting reforms to strengthen the effectiveness of the judiciary. The findings suggest that, beyond initial conditions, an enabling environment for judicial reforms was created by factors and policies that (1) improved the distribution of resources and opportunities, (2) upgraded rules and procedures to recruit and train civil servants, and (3) increased transparency and accountability. The European Union and the Council of Europe (CoE) acted as strong external anchors in catalyzing reforms. However, there were also some reversals of reforms, and the sustainability of reforms appears to depend mainly on domestic factors. These findings might offer insights in particular for countries aiming to join the European Union, but also for others seeking to improve the effectiveness of their judiciary.