A working market economy requires a number of essential elements which should be introduced in the course of the reform process. A catalogue of criterions based on these elements helps answering the question to what extent the requirements of a market economy are fulfilled in the Baltic Rim transformation countries. The criteria include: legal base, state of private property, competition rules and liberty of the markets, macroeconomic stabilization and economic openess. The importance of the single elements as well as their interdependencies are discussed. This reference system is confronted with recent developments in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.