1989 and the collapse of communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe led to major changes in the system of international relations, the most visible and immediate of those being the disintegration of the Cold War bi-polar system. In particular, the end of US-Soviet antagonism opened unexpected perspectives on the European continent, stimulating the reconsideration of previously consolidated arrangements of the region. The fall of the Berlin wall preceded of a few years the Maastricht Treaty and the creation of the European Union. It imposed a large and deep process of re-examination not only of the geographical scope, but also of the international influence of the new entity and of its inner nature (finalitť). The European Union was conceived as an ambitious building encompassing new areas of cooperation and integration.
The European Union rapidly became a natural gravity centre
for all those countries who thought of themselves as European. Faced with the
accession expectations expressed by Central and Eastern Europe Countries, the EU
had also to cope with their specificities, which compelled the Union to rethink
the enlargement process. The design of an enlargement strategy and that of
specific methods also conferred an unprecedented character to the accession
process which started in the early 1990ís.
At the same time, the disintegration of the Cold War system paved the way for in-depth changes in international relations, and in particular for reconsidering the role of the European Union on the international arena. The fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the USSR, which made possible the development of relations with a new region, were instrumental in transforming the EUís role on the international arena. While expanding the scope of EUís external action, they also called for adapting the tools which had been used so far in the relations with other regions.
The process of enlarging the EU after the end of the Cold War
also opened the question of improving the European political cooperation,
especially in security issues. The making of a Common Foreign and Security
Policy (CFSP) in 1992 was meant as an answer to political changes in the
European continent and the launch of a European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP)
in 1999 as a response to the failure of the EU to maintain security on its own
continent (Western Balkan) and around.
This process led between 2004 and 2006 to the admission into EUís structures of 10 countries which until 1989 were under Soviet domination, but it hasnít been concluded by the biggest wave of enlargement in the history of the European integration project. As a matter of fact, those States in the Eastern part of the continent which before 1989 had shared the same destiny of the newcomers, but which havenít been included into the list of the prospective members continue to pose a conceptual challenge to the definition of the EUís role in Europe. In this context, European authorities have been induced to launch the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) which represents an effort to tackle the challenges deriving not only from the mentioned countries, but also from Southern Mediterranean partners. The ENP, however, does not provide any clear answer on the finalitť of the European project. It rather underlines the urgency of finding an answer to the ever pressing questions which arouse after 1989.
In this context, a reconsideration of the changes induced by the events symbolised by 1989 on the scope and the quality of the EUís integration project is becoming increasingly important, both from a theoretical and from a practical point of view. This Working Group intends to explore the various dimensions of the renewed role of the EU after 1989 connected to:
The transformation of EU external action
The birth of the EU as a new security actor.
On the basis of the analysis developed in these areas, the working group will draw policy-driven lessons on possible orientations for EU action on the continent. The results of the groupís collaboration, which will translate into a series of original working papers, will be presented in workshops and in publications. The working group will try to interact as much as possible with policy-makers through the dissemination of its conclusions via policy briefs and through the participation in seminars and policy studies.
Our aim is to initially complete the four working papers as outlined in the full proposal. On that basis we would then like to review the great 20th century debate on capitalism, socialism and democracy with a view to stimulating the scholarly imagination again and broadening our horizon beyond the limited and limiting varieties of capitalism.
Laure Delcour, Institut díEtudes Politiques de Paris
Laure Delcour, Institut díEtudes Politiques de Paris; Gabriella Meloni, European University Institute, Florence; Elsa Tulmets, Institute of International Relations, Prague; Joanna Gorska, St Antony's, Oxford
(Further members to be confirmed)