The paper is concerned with two questions related to post-communist economic transformation. The first aims at establishing whether national transformation trajectories follow a general pattern of convergence or divergence. To address this question an index of aggregate transition factor scores is constructed for the period 1989–2002 covering 27 post–communist countries. The main finding is that countries cluster around two groups of high–pace and low–pace reformers. Thus, a pattern of inter–group divergence and intra-group convergence emerges over time. The second question aims at explaining the observed pattern: why is it that the two groups follow different collective trajectories? Should the underlying causes be sought at the domestic or the international level? Relying on the empirical observation that high–pace reforming countries were also candidates for EU membership, the paper explores the latter view of international determinants and the decisive impact of the conditioning of the transformation process through early EU policies.