By the end of the winter 1991/92, the energy situation in central and eastern Europe had further deteriorated. Despite a significant fall in industrial demand, supply shortages occurred, pollution continued and safety problems remained potentially high. Top-down legislative and institutional reforms met with conflicting policies and structures. Energy trade declined and traditional trade patterns disintegrated. Western assistance had increased but had little impact on actual energy supplies, efficiency, pollution or safety as it was aimed at supporting structural reforms and securing a stable macro-economic famework. Also private sector investments while growing remained limited. Legislation on foreign investments, demonopolization and concessions, and energy policies were either still under debate or undergoing the first tests of their practicability and appeal. As 1992 unfolds the energy reform process appears at a critical stage. Its final success would seem to depend on a further special effort on the part of all concerned and on prioritisation. As the various initiatives depend on each other, their international co-ordination becomes a separate issue. 11 refs., 1 tab.