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Tag: EU integration

Give European democracy a chance. An enlarged Europe turns twenty

Over the past two decades, the project of European integration has been moderately “failing forward”. Many issues have accompanied this process and their sum calls for a reinvention of European democracy.

Two decades have passed since the European Union’s “Big Bang enlargement” into Central and Eastern Europe. This anniversary prompts a reflection on the EU's evolution and where the European project stands today. The analysis below is based on the three main processes that have shaped the EU since 2004: widening and deepening, the impact of crises, and the emergence of new political divides.

June 22, 2024 - Ferenc Laczó

Navigating new security threats requires a change in focus

Czechia, together with its neighbours Poland and Slovakia, joined the European Union 20 years ago, a time when the security landscape in Europe looked completely different. Today the threats now faced by the Czechs and their neighbours require a completely new approach and mindset. Only then can the values enshrined in the EU treaty be truly protected.

The European Security Strategy was adopted in December 2003 and has become a landmark in the development of the EU’s foreign and security policy. For the first time, the member states agreed on a joint threat assessment and set clear objectives for advancing their security interests, which are all based on shared values. Twenty years since the adoption of the security strategy, the EU carries greater responsibilities than at any time in its history as it faces new, increasingly complex threats and challenges.

June 22, 2024 - Anna Dohnalová

The Baltics have grown up. Do not call them new member states

As the core of EU decision-making becomes more plural and less a monopoly of the Paris-Berlin engine – Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius have proven to have reached full adulthood as EU member states. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are no longer “new member states” aspiring to be good students in a never-ending exam. The idea of an old Europe looking down at a teenage new Europe has been surpassed by history.

Twenty years ago, on May 1st 2004, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania together with other countries from Central and Eastern Europe joined the European Union in what has become known as the “Big Bang enlargement”– the EU’s most ambitious expansion. Since they regained their independence in 1991, after more than 40 years of brutal Soviet occupation, the Baltic states have spent almost two-thirds of their recent independent history as EU members.

June 22, 2024 - Stefano Braghiroli

Hungarian metamorphosis: from returning to Europe to occupying Brussels

Hungary joined the European Union 20 years ago and became a member of NATO 25 years ago. Yet, neither occasion has been officially commemorated by the Hungarian government. As Viktor Orbán geared up for this year’s European parliamentary election and the Hungarian EU Council presidency due to take place from July, he announced that he wants to “occupy Brussels”.

With today’s Hungarian government being one of the staunchest critics of the European Union, the memory of the country’s drive towards integration after regime change seems ever so distant. Still, joining the EU – as well as NATO – was one of the three key goals that underpinned Hungarian foreign policy throughout the 1990s and, except for the Eurosceptic extreme right’s objection, was supported by all political forces. The stages of the accession process itself reflected this broad political consensus.

June 22, 2024 - Zsuzsanna Végh

The ability to reconcile is a mark of a nation’s maturity

A conversation with Milan Kučan, the first president of Slovenia from 1991 to 2002. Interviewer: Nikodem Szczygłowski

NIKODEM SZCZYGŁOWSKI: In 2004, at the time of the EU’s enlargement, Slovenia was considered one of the most developed countries in the region – much more so than Poland, the Czech Republic or Lithuania. Now, 20 years later, we can see that the achievements of Poland or Lithuania were greater than those of Slovenia. Slovenia was at the highest level when it joined the EU, and it is still at a high level, but Poland or Lithuania have caught up much more and are much closer to Slovenia. What are the reasons for this?

MILAN KUČAN: Slovenia was ahead of all these countries in terms of development parameters at that time. But then, it actually developed more slowly. This was due to the specific features of the economic and privatization reforms in Slovenia, but also a number of other factors. At a certain point, Slovenia actually stopped or paid much less attention to economic development than to internal ideological debates, political divisions and so on.

June 22, 2024 - Milan Kučan Nikodem Szczygłowski

Everything you need to know about Serbian sentiments: from economic worries to foreign policy

Opinions within Serbian society are shaped by a complex interplay of historical perceptions, national propaganda, and actual circumstances. A new poll underscores the nation’s multifaced anxieties and highlights the persistent fissures within Serbian society. While the majority of Serbs voice socio-economic concerns shared across Europe, their foreign policy outlook remains sceptical of western integration.

May 29, 2024 - Leon Hartwell

The EU bet on the Georgian people with its candidacy decision

The European Commission recommended that the Council grant Georgia candidate status in December. However, the Commission’s report involved little to no praise for the Georgian government in most of the priority areas and set out further reforms for the future. The EU narrative directly portrayed the Georgian people as those who have received this new status. Overall, Brussels hopes that the candidacy decision will encourage the society to demand progress rather than appease the government.

November 30, 2023 - Soso Chachanidze

Montenegro’s new government: another step closer to Belgrade 

At first glance, the formation of Montenegro’s new government appears to represent a victory for pro-western forces in the country. Despite this, the new coalition is ultimately propped up by groups with close links to both Serbia and Russia.

November 21, 2023 - Kenneth Morrison Srdja Pavlović

Serbia continues to walk the tightrope

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has not significantly changed Belgrade’s foreign policy. Although Serbia is an EU candidate country, it has continued to exploit its ties with China and Russia to increase its bargaining position vis-à-vis the West and raise additional funds for development projects. Despite this ambivalent foreign policy, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić is still considered by many politicians in the EU and NATO as a very important partner in keeping stability in the region.

It seemed that a strong and unified western reaction to the Russian aggression against Ukraine would prevent Serbia from continuing its policy of balancing between East and West. Belgrade, aspiring (at least declaratively) to membership in the European Union, would subsequently be forced to decrease its cooperation with Russia. Yet Serbia’s leadership has been able to avoid introducing sanctions against Russia and keep its good relations with Moscow, while at the same time fostering an image among western politicians as a guarantor of stability in the region.

September 11, 2023 - Marta Szpala

Three strategies of western support for Ukraine: intensification, modification and innovation

The geopolitical salience of the Russia–Ukraine War and the remoteness of Ukraine’s accession to the European Union or NATO call for intensification and modification of, and innovation in, current western approaches.

February 3, 2023 - Andreas Umland

EU and national law: which is ‘superior’?

Ongoing disputes between the EU and some its member states are deeply rooted in the problematic relationship between EU law and national constitutional orders. Whilst the general public remain unaware of these issues, lawyers do not intend to resolve them.

August 10, 2021 - Michał Jerzy Dębowski

The coronavirus crisis as a critical juncture for Ukraine and the world

Deliberations on the political repercussions of the ongoing pandemic for international relations and Ukrainian foreign affairs.

May 4, 2020 - Andreas Umland Pavlo Klimkin


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