Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

The Visegrad Group Is on Its Way To Miss a Golden Opportunity*

Tomas Valasek**, January 11, 2013

When was the last time you heard an interesting Czech idea on how to revive European economies? Or a memorable Hungarian proposal on how to reform the EU? Of the Central European countries, only Poland has tried in earnest to initiate a debate on how to combat the economic crisis (by proposing, during its EU presidency, to deepen the single market in services). But the rest of the “Visegrad” governments, the three above plus Slovakia, have mostly stayed quiet or have turned inwards since the crisis began. Yet, they need to spell out how they want economic growth in the EU to resume, for a number of reasons.

First, by leaving the initiative to other EU member states, the Central European governments breed a sense of powerlessness at home which, in turn, encourages euroscepticism. Too few Central Europeans feel that the EU is their creation, too. They see Germany, France, and other large countries shaping its agenda and suspect that the interests of Central Europe are being given a short shrift. Unless the governments in the region demonstrate that they have influence over the EU's future, more of their citizens will turn against “Brussels” and seek refuge in populist ideas.

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*The title is euinside's

**Tomas Valasek is head of the Central European Policy Institute in Bratislava. Before that he was an analyst with the Centre for European Reform in London (a pro-European think-tank). The text was originally published by Strategic Europe