Abstract: The article attempts to define the relevant yardsticks that can be used to delineate the end of the transition process or, alternatively, a second stage in the post-socialist economic transformation into market capitalism. A first benchmark is EU accession, but it does not apply to non accession transitional economies. Moreover, a delay is going to appear between accession and the full benefit of common policies – a second transition period will open in May 2004. Convergence criteria are likely to postpone the end of transition for decades, if not for ever. Institution building varies significantly among transition countries, but the non accession countries are trapped for a long time in a no man’s land between the former system and a market economy with its necessary institutions. Our privileged analysis is that transition ends when the economic phenomena that are specific to transition will vanish (and the associated concepts will disappear). These are assumed to be transformational recession, transitional unemployment, barterisation, the typical informal sector and managerial entrenchment. They are not going to fade away without a second stage of transition.
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