|Abstract:||The thesis deals with the economic trends of eight member states that joined the European Union in 2004. Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia had been striving to enter the European integration since their independence or the transfer from centrally planned to market economy in the early 1990s. Therefore, in the theoretical part, the thesis deals with the theory of integration with an emphasis on the creation, development, and enlargement of the European Union. The EU carried out its largest enlargement in 2004, when 10 new members joined the integration. We also discuss the common market and the cohesion policy of the European Union in detail. Some of the analysed countries have also adopted the common currency during the years, therefore, in the theoretical part, attention is paid to the conditions of joining the euro area, the European Central Bank, and the theory of the optimal currency area. All countries experienced a negative impact of the financial crisis in 2008, which had arisen in the United States, but also had a strong influence on economic trends in European countries. Consequently, the thesis pays special attention to the development of the financial crisis in Europe.
To analyse the economic trends in the selected countries, indicators of gross domestic product, gross investment, unemployment, price trends wage trends, exports of goods and imports of goods have been used. At the same time, the importance of analysis has been discussed by introducing every single indicator separately. Data on economic trends have been drawn from publications of the European Commission and Eurostat.
The thesis briefly presents all eight countries discussed and focuses on their economic trends between 2004 and 2019 in detail. All selected indicators of economic trends have been compared with data on economic trends representing the whole European Union and summed up in an information table. Annual unemployment and inflation rates have been taken under consideration, while other indicators have been analysed as annual growth rates. The thesis continues with the presentation of the key findings regarding the analysis of data on economic trends, where gross domestic product per capita in selected countries compared to the European Union's GDP per capita average has been pointed out. The convergence of the considered countries to the European average has been presented with help of an information table, a graph, and a detailed data analysis.
Further on, the selected indicators of the countries in the first years after the accession to the European Union, until the financial crisis, have been discussed in detail. The analysis compares Slovenia with the other seven countries. The previously collected data and own calculations have been applied. The thesis also focuses on the impact of the financial crisis on selected indicators of economic trends in the countries concerned. Here, the emphasis has been on the comparison of Slovenia with other countries in the period from 2008 to 2014. For this purpose, the collected data on economic trends and own calculations have been used. In addition, special attention has been paid to 2009, to determine whether the membership in the euro area has also meant greater negative growth trends. Further on, it has been discussed if all the countries considered enjoyed positive economic trends within the last three years of the observed period (2017–2019). The next chapter has been devoted to the discussion of hypotheses through analysing the findings of the previous chapters.
In conclusion, we have summarised the findings and made suggestions for further research and analysis associated with the topic. Thinking critically, the reasons for the research results have been tried to be determined. Finally, the thesis has taken reflect on current and future challenges of the European Union and Slovenia.|