The turn of the century brought significant changes in the regional structure of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Rationale, objectives, principles and factors of development in this part of the continent underwent a fundamental reorientation. The transformation caused what previously were strengths in some countries to became a hard to overcome barriers, causing underdevelopment and lack of prospects. On the other hand, decentralization of management and freeing of initiative on the part of the populations created an important stimulus which reinforces the development dynamics. Great expectations, but also fear accompanied the process of accession to the European Community, which - accepting as its members economically backward, post-communist countries - undertook to support their development in accordance with the principle of economic, social and territorial cohesion. This task proved difficult, and controversial from the standpoint of both the "old" and "new" European Union. The analysis of statistical data indicates that the region of Central and Eastern Europe is not homogeneous. CEE countries differ not only in the size of their economies, but also in the level of economic development. This was seen especially during the economic crisis the first decade of the XXI century.