In the course of the last decade, Central Europe has been undergoing a period of rapid change and liberalisation. This process has narrowed the economic and social gap between Western and Central Europe, and sparked aspiration for EU membership in some of the region's most developed markets. The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland are to be amongst the first wave of countries to make the transition to EU membership within the next few years. They will be expected to have achieved a number of objectives to meet EU requirements, namely: