The Czech Republic has come a long way since its founding in 1993, through nearly a decade of transition from a communist to a capitalist economic system. It is a member of the United Nations, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), International Monetary Fund, (IMF), World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and the World Trade Organization (WTO), and became a NATO member in 1999. In addition, it is an associate member of the EU and the Western European Union (WEU). The government's primary focus in recent years has been the preparation of legislative and regulatory structures for future EU membership, for which it has made a formal application. Accession talks with the EU officially began in 1998, and the Czech Republic is slated to become a full member between 2003 and 2005.
In spite of the enormous changes that the Czech Republic successfully underwent in its first few years of independence, more remains to be done. The country is expected to continue to rebound from the economic recession of the late 1990s, especially as it improves its trade with Western European nations. But it is the interaction with Western European nations in the EU that is expected to pose the greatest challenge to the Czech Republic in the coming decade. Restructuring the large enterprises that remain in the hands of the state, and reforming legislation to conform to EU standards will cause some economic displacement. Yet once the country moves through this difficult period, its position at the heart of Central Europe, its well-developed infrastructure, its high-quality educational institutions, and its educated populace promise a vibrant economic future.