The aim of this publication is to identify potential gaps between public opinion in Central and Eastern Europe and the stances of foreign policy decision-makers at both the national and EU levels. The report, furthermore, endeavours to examine CEE citizen perceptions concerning attempts to bolster the EU voice on the global stage and how CEE countries are seeking to position the EU and themselves in the global great-power competition.

Key Observations:

  • Though China received a boost in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region post-March 2020, the European Union has recently gained ground and is judged to have garnered necessary momentum to strengthen its capacity to act;
  • A total of 85% of CEE respondents favour the EU acting as a unified bloc on the world stage;
  • CEE remains consistent in regard to its strategic partnership with the United States across different administrations in Washington;
  • If the US-China rivalry intensifies into an open standoff, most people in the region, nonetheless, back a stance of neutrality, with 67% preferring this option over alignment with either the US or China;
  • China and Russia’s use of soft power are influencing CEE’s perception of their importance – the recent rapid series of economic and epidemiological shocks are not, however, cultivating a pro-Chinese orientation;
  • There are divergences in societal attitudes of CEE countries towards Russia, China and the United States – this backdrop necessitates that Brussels lead an intensified campaign to persuade states to toe the EU line;
  • As the post-pandemic recovery and geopolitical rivalry both unfold, Germany (53%) stands out as the most selected strategic partner for CEE countries. The United States (35%), Russia (23%), France (16%), the United Kingdom (13%) and China (11%) all rank lower.

*The policy brief is published withinGLOBSEC GEOPE—Geopolitical Europe: Are the Member States Ready for It? Project supported byJean Monnet Actionsof the EU’s Erasmus+ program.

*The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

 

GEOPE project