Perhaps the most important socio-economic and political development in Europe between the time of ETTS IV and that of ETTS V was the start of the process of transition for the former centrally planned economies to a market economy system. The changes to every part of these countries' society and institutions are profound and sometimes painful. The forest and forest products sector is no exception. As these countries account for about a quarter of Europe's forest area and around 10% of its consumption of forest products, it is important to understand the factors which will determine the outlook for them. Methodologically, however, a severe problem arises in that the experience of the past provides only very limited information which is relevant for the future.