EUSA_paper_2005.doc - EUSA Ninth Biennial International...

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EUSA Ninth Biennial International Conference March 31 – April 2, 2005 Austin, USA The Visegrád Group in the Expanded European Union: From Pre-accession to Post-accession Cooperation* Martin DANGERFIELD History and Governance Research Institute University of Wolverhampton Wolverhampton WV1 1SB United Kingdom Telephone: (00 44) 1902 322730 Fax: (00 44) 1902 322739 E-mail: [email protected] *This paper draws on the findings of a British Academy funded research project Subregional Cooperation and the European Union which has been investigating the impact of the 5 th EU expansion on various Central European subregional associations. The author is most grateful both to the British Academy and also to the many government and non-government officials, and scholars in Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy and Slovakia who kindly provided crucial assistance to this research. The paper is work in progress – please do not cite without author’ permission. 1
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PRELIMINARIES The various subregional groupings which emerged onto the European scene after 1989 have played useful, albeit low profile, roles in the interrelated processes of constructing the post- Cold War security order and enlarging the EU eastward. For certain subregional associations the 5 th EU enlargement was therefore somewhat of a crossroads since they had been created specifically to assist their participants’ NATO and EU entry. Could or should such groupings continue to exist in the post-accession phase? If so, what should the purpose of cooperation be, what forms should it take and, most crucially, how would it serve requirements and challenges of actual rather than prospective EU membership? So far the actual EU enlargement of May 2004 has not as yet been followed by dissolution of any subregional associations raising the possibility that certain of them at least - even ones with the closest links to the EU pre-accession process - may be evolving into viable post-accession groupings. This paper discusses the transition from pre-accession to post-accession cooperation in the Visegrád Group (VG). VG, which consists of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, was one of the first subregional groupings to emerge in the post-Cold war environment. After some 13 years of cooperation, NATO membership for all four countries followed by their EU accession on 1 May 2004 meant that the (Czech VG Presidency Report 2004) “fulfilment of the intentions set out in the (February 1991) Visegrád Declaration put the participating countries before the question of how to go on”. The first part of the paper provides a theoretical/analytical context by identifying the alternative ways in which subregional cooperation experiences have interacted with EU integration. It locates VG within this framework and briefly compares its EU pre-accession role with that of other types of subregional cooperation initiatives that have been active in post-communist Central Europe. The next section briefly reviews the origins of the VG and
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