With the approaching 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Visegrad Group and the EU facing numerous challenges, CEPI led a policy session to discuss the future of EU integration from the Central European perspective and the Visegrad Group’s capacity to shape decisions at the EU level. The session took place on Thursday, 5 November 2015, as part of the Tatra Summit conference in Bratislava.
The session featured four speakers from Visegrad countries: János Martonyi (former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary), Pavol Demeš (German Marshall Fund of the US, Bratislava), Beata Jaczewska (International Visegrad Fund), and Vít Dostál (Association for International Affairs, Prague) and was chaired by Milan Nič (Managing Director of CEPI).
The policy session commenced with the presentation of the comparative survey of the foreign policy elites ‘Trends of Visegrad Foreign Policy’ by Vít Dostál. The survey results suggest that the V4 countries perceive the energy security, security in general, Eastern policy, and migration as the key policy areas for future cooperation. The EU Membership is seen as categorically beneficial.
In the discussion, the panelists agreed that the Visegrad countries have been able to influence some EU key policies such as the energy security and single market. This impact, however, could be strengthened further. It was also emphasized that there is a need to reflect on the surge in the renationalization of politics that came about as a response from the national level to the ongoing refugee crisis. The rejections of the relocation mechanism of asylum seekers have unfavorably altered the image of Central Europe. The discussants suggested that the V4 should seek to be involved in positive projects on the EU level in order to increase the visibility and political weight of the region in Europe.
To reach the full potential of the integration of Central Europe into the EU, both V4 and their European partners should strive to improve the ‘balance of knowledge’ in Europe. As it stands today, Central Europe knows and understands older EU Member States significantly better than older EU Member States know and understand Central Europe.