Building: VMP 5 Floor: Ground Room: Lecture Hall B1
The countries in Central-Eastern Europe have undergone a process of fundamental economic, political and social transformation process since the fall of communism and their accession to the European Union. Since they joined the CEE member states have shown a predominantly passive attitude as policy-takers who were reluctant to actively contribute to the EU’s policy agenda. As such they have pursued a strategy under which their main goal was to achieve the status of good citizens in the EU through swift and successful transformation. Another priority was to maintain the close relationship with their traditional economic and political ally and mentor Germany. The CEE countries consequently became the strongest supporters of Germany’s semi-hegemonial leadership in the management of the eurozone crisis.
Since the 2015 refugee crisis the CEE countries have positioned themselves in resolute opposition towards the EU’s political mainstream political agenda as it was determined under German leadership. The opposition towards what the CEE countries regard as a predominantly Western liberal value agenda, which is ill suited towards their domestic cultural background, has instilled a new political purpose into the Visegrád Group that used to be divided between multiple strategic interests. The growing support in the region for the process of backsliding towards what Hungary’s prime minister famously defined as an ‘illiberal democracy’ threatens to marginalise the influence of the CEE countries in the EU. This growing political peripheralization occurs against the background of a persistent economic and social cleavage between Central-Eastern Europe and the advanced North-Western Europe core of the EU led by Germany.
The EU is consequently more divided than ever at a time when it is facing the unprecedented prospect of disintegration. By 2019 the United Kingdom as the EU’s current third largest member state will leave the Union, a process which could ultimately lead to further disintegration if other member states, particularly in Central-Eastern Europe, follow the British example.
The panel will concentrate on the analysis of the multiple causes and the effects of the growing peripheralization of the CEE member states in the context of the EU’s current fragile state. Papers concentrate on the domestic and external factors which contribute to democratic backsliding in the region and the multiple dimensions of the economic, political and social peripheralization of the CEE member states in the EU. They also develop concrete political strategies to prevent the rise of euroscepticism in the region and consequently the further disintegration of the EU.