The securities markets in central and eastern Europe are small: the capitalisation in domestic shares in the 10 acceding countries represents barely 4 per cent of the capitalisation in Euronext. The capitalisation of these markets as share of the gross domestic product is still weak. However, the number of companies in the central and eastern European stock exchanges is equivalent to those in many of the EU member states and these companies have access to an important source of finance in the stock exchange. These markets primarily finance a certain number of companies that are very important for the local economy but too small to have effective access to capital in EU markets. The preservation of stock markets in central and eastern Europe is therefore desirable, even if entry into the European Union and implementation of the new European financial directives could seriously worsen their competitive environment.