Central European Policy Institute took part in the closing conference of the project on “European Perspectives: Integration Achievements and Challenges of the V4 States after Ten Years in the EU”, which took place on 29th September at the office of The German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) in Berlin. The event brought together CEPI director Milan Nič with other experts from partner institutes in Warsaw (Dominik P. Jankowski), Prague (Vít Dostál), and Budapest (Daniel Hegedűs) as well as Germany (Andrea Gawrich) to review twenty years of Visegrad cooperation, assess the results of EU membership, and scrutinize current security challenges. Some forty participants from the worlds of politics, business, and civil society were present.

While EU membership has been fundamentally positive for all of the Visegrad states, the experts did offer strikingly different assessments of how their own countries have developed. At the same time, the V4 countries are all aware that they benefited from Germany’s leading role during the financial and economic crisis. This has put more depth into the relationship between the region and Berlin. However, there is still dominance of strong bilateral relationships with individual Visegrad capitals rather than regional approach from Berlin, which still has its limitations and should be broadened, in particular in the energy and security domains.

In terms of European security matters, the Visegrad states regard Germany’s importance as quite limited. While it is uncontested that Germany is Europe’s leading power in economic terms, Visegrad states’ security debates consider German significance to be minimal. Despite all of this, the four countries still view mutual security and defence cooperation as a highly beneficial aspect of future collaboration.

Last week’s conference marked the end of a year-long research project and a series of conferences in the capital cities of the Visegrad states within the framework of a Visegrad Fund Strategic Grand Project. The results of the research were published in five policy papers has been presented at the event. The latest of the five – German Foreign Policy toward the Visegrad Countries: Patterns of Integration in Central Europe by Andrea Gawrich and Maxim Stepanov – can be also found attached below.