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1/12/16

Central Europe’s Outlook on the EU and Foreign Policy - by Milan Nič, Vít Dostál

A consortium of four Central European think tanks has published and presented a unique regional survey on foreign policy trends in the four Visegrad Group (V4) countries—the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia.

The study is based on data collected in mid-2015 that allowed the authors to examine and compare the views held by over 400 foreign policy experts and opinion makers from the V4. The survey looked at a variety of national and European policy issues such as foreign and EU policy priorities, allies and partners, successes and failures, cooperation among the Visegrad countries, EU policies, and transatlantic relations.

The survey was finalized at the beginning of September as the V4 leaders closed ranks amid Europe’s migration crisis to resist the EU’s refugee relocation mechanism. The leaders also reduced their previous differences of opinion on Russia and the Ukraine crisis.

An analysis of the responses gives an insight into the divisions and overlaps among national visions and perceptions in the Visegrad region, as well as expectations in the European context.

The results indicate several interesting trends. First of all, the Visegrad Group will remain a cohesive bloc on the EU level on some relevant issues such as energy and migration. Perceptions of priorities on the national and the EU levels overlap a lot. Also, bilateral relations within the Visegrad Group are now perceived as excellent—which has not always been the case and is part of the success of EU integration and Visegrad cooperation.

While the ongoing migration crisis has brought about a major parting between Berlin and the V4 capitals, Central Europeans still consider Germany their most important partner.

On the future of EU integration, Visegrad expectations are quite divergent and fragmented. Poles and Czech expect more differentiated (multispeed) integration, Hungarians think that larger member states will increasingly dominate, and Slovaks—the only eurozone country in the grouping—expect a reinforcing of the euro area.

Read more: Central Europe’s Outlook on the EU and Foreign Policy - Carnegie Europe - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

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