The paper reviews recent socio-economic changes in the 10 new EU member states of Central and Eastern Europe and the earlier and latest debates on the emergence of the post-communist welfare state regime. It asks two questions: are the new EU member states more similar to each other in their social problems encountered than to the rest of the EU world? Do they exhibit enough common socio-economic and institutional features to group them into the distinct/unified post-communist welfare regime that deviates from any well-known welfare state typology?
The findings of this paper indicate that despite some slight variation within, the new EU countries exhibit lower indicators compared to the EU-15 as it comes to the minimum wage and social protection expenditure. The degree of material deprivation and the shadow economy is on average also higher if compared to the EU-15 or the EU-27. However, then it comes to at-risk-of-poverty rate after social transfers or Gini index, some Eastern European outliers especially the Check Republic, but also Slovenia, Slovakia and Hungary perform the same or even better than the old capitalist democracies. Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, however, show many similarities in their social indicators and performances and this group of countries never perform better than the EU-15 or the EU-27 averages. Nevertheless, the literature reviews on welfare state development in the CEE region reveal a number of important institutional features in support of identifying the distinct/unified post-communist welfare regime. Most resilient of it are: an insurance-based programs that played a major part in the social protection system; high take-up of social security; relatively low social security benefits; increasing signs of liberalization of social policy; and the experience of the Soviet/Communist type of welfare state, which implies still deeply embedded signs of solidarity and universalism.