FP Bulgaria issue 1 (30)

February 2010

The first online only issue of FP Bulgaria.

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After Europe (in Bulgarian)


Author(s): Ivan Krastev

The Bulgarian edition of "After Europe", published by Obsidian Publishing House.

After Europe


Author(s): Ivan Krastev

In this provocative book, renowned public intellectual Ivan Krastev reflects on the future of the European Union—and its potential lack of a future.

Democracy Disrupted


Author(s): Ivan Krastev

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Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe: Challenges and Opportunities. Bulgaria Country Report

05 June 2017

Author(s): Ruzha Smilova

Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe: Challenges and Opportunities Edited by Peter Vandor, Nicole Traxler, Reinhard Millner, and Michael Meyer. ERSTE Foundation publication

Democratic Innovation and the Politics of Fear: 25 Lessons from Eastern Europe

05 June 2017

Author(s): Daniel Smilov

Daniel Smilov's contribution to The Governance Report 2017, published by Oxford University Press

Political Finance in East, Central and South East Europe & Central Asia

Funding of Political Parties and Election Campaigns: A Handbook on Political Finance © International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance 2014, 16 July 2015

Author(s): Daniel Smilov

The New European Disorder

ECFR, 11 November 2014

Ivan Krastev and Mark Leonard

Author(s): Ivan Krastev

Bulgaria: EP Elections a Rehearsal for Early National Elections

23 May 2014

EPIN publication with a general introduction and case studies from 11 Member States (Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain and the UK) "Between Apathy and Anger: Challenges to the Union from the 201

Author(s): Antoinette Primatarova

Bridge Over Troubled Waters? The Role of the Internationals in Albania

12 October 2012

Publication of Antoinette Primatarova and Dr Johanna Deimel with contributions by Margarita Assenova

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Putin’s Next Playground or the E.U.’s Last Moral Stand?

New York Times, 28 January 2019

Author(s): Ivan Krastev

The Metamorphosis of Central Europe

Project Syndicate, 21 January 2019

Author(s): Ivan Krastev

A European Goes to Trump’s Washington

New York Times, 30 November 2018

Author(s): Ivan Krastev

Steve Bannon’s New Best Friend in Europe

New York Times, 19 August 2018

Author(s): Ivan Krastev

Imitation and Its Discontents

Journal of Democracy, 05 August 2018

Author(s): Ivan Krastev and Stephen Holmes

The Pope vs. the Populists

New York Times, 12 July 2018

Central Europe is a lesson to liberals: don’t be anti-nationalist

The Guardian, 11 July 2018

Author(s): Ivan Krastev

3 Versions of Europe Are Collapsing at the Same Time

Foreign Policy, 10 July 2018

Author(s): Ivan Krastev

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Will the EU Ever Cover the Entire European Continent?

"Alternatives internationales" magazine, September 2009, N44
30 September 2009
Antoinette Primatarova

Will the EU ever cover the entire European continent?

Will the EU ever cover the entire European continent?

(Link to the original publication in French)

Antoinette Primatarova

Centre for Liberal Strategies


In 2007 the EU celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. From 6 members back in 1957 the European Economic Community did grow to a union of 27 members in 2007. In 2009 the Council of Europe is celebrating its 60th anniversary. From 10 members back in 1949 it did grow to its present 47 members and now virtually covers the entire European continent. No doubt, the idea of a European “continent” is not universally held. For some Europe seems to be much more a cultural than a geographically definable area.  The EU has no agreed definition of Europe. But the Council of Europe is a fact of live. Against its background it makes sense to ask the question:

Will the EU ever cover the entire European continent?

Formally, any European country which respects the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law may apply to become a member of the Union. But regardless of several enlargements in the 70ies and 80ies, the question about a Europe-wide EU could never arise in the times of the Cold War. It is not really on the agenda today either. The EU is dragging its feet on the commitments made to the Western Balkans and Turkey. Whereas some members would like to see the European Neighborhood Policy as an instrument for drawing EU’s outer borders, others are eager not to close the door to the European countries in the East and do promote the Eastern Partnership as an instrument for closer integration of these countries.

For countries that have been cut off from the West through the Iron Curtain, the big challenge was how to get integrated into the political and economic European mainstream.

Preparation for accession to the EU developed into the most successful instrument for the aspired transition to democracy, rule of law and market economy, to modernization and integration.

Countries that are and feel well integrated (like Switzerland or Norway) can still opt for non-membership. They are good examples for “Integration without membership”. They do participate in the Single market and in the Schengen area. However, they cannot join the Euro-zone and aren’t part of the institutional EU-arrangements. But this is because of the will of their people rather than of EU’s unwillingness to admit them.  (Norwegian governments negotiated successfully EU-membership in the 70ies and 90ies but it was rejected by the people. Interestingly, Iceland is on the way to reconsider its “integration without membership” status and to apply for membership as a result of the present financial and economic crisis.)

However, “integration without membership” and “everything but the institutions” is no option for countries that are suffering internal problems and external isolation and that do want to join the EU (contrary to Norway, e.g.). Without the perspective for EU membership the EU transformative power doesn’t work. Furthermore, countries that are supposed to align with virtually all obligations stemming from the European acquis communautaire (be it Turkey or the countries under the European Neighborhood Policy) don’t understand why they should be excluded from EU’s institutional arrangements. What holds true for countries that have still to modernize and become full-fledged democracies and market economies is “No integration without membership”.

The “No integration without membership” postulate seems to be better understood in countries that joined the EU recently and that benefited from its transformation power. The symbolic Iron curtain continues to divide public opinion in the enlarged EU. According to Eurobarometer 70 (Fall 2008) in the 12 newer Member States enlargement is widely viewed as a positive development for the EU (59% ‘strengthened’ vs. 21% ‘weakened’), whereas in the 15 ‘old’ EU Member States views are more divided (44% vs. 40%). A similar division exists with regard to support for further enlargement. Whereas the EU27 average support for further enlargement is 47 %, support is much higher in the newer Member States (e.g. 74 % in Poland, 67 % in Bulgaria etc.)  (Eurobarometer 69, 2008). For them, further enlargement of the EU is partly an instance of solidarity, of better understanding how it feels to be at the doorsteps of the EU but also an instance of understanding that continent wide integration is the best way towards stability, security and conflict prevention in Europe.

The major political decisions that the Western Balkans’ (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, FYR of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, as well as Kosovo under UNSC Resolution 1244/99) and Turkey’s future should be with the EU were adopted by the EU15. Turkey was recognized as a candidate country in December 1999. In 2000 the Feira European Council stated that the countries from the Western Balkans are "potential candidates" for EU membership. Their European perspective was further enforced in 2003 through the Thessaloniki Agenda.

Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia were in the position to actively shape EU-decisions after 2004 (Bulgaria and Romania from 2007 onwards).  Decisions on the start of negotiations with Turkey and Croatia and to give Macedonia candidate status were adopted in 2005 by the enlarged EU25. Regardless of the general supportive attitude, the presidencies of two newer members (Slovenia in 2008 and the Czech Republic in 2009) have not been able to promote substantial progress on the enlargement dossiers because of the lack of enthusiasm for enlargement of EU27 and EU’s problems with the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. Furthermore, both Cyprus and Slovenia have used bilateral issues to block the progress of negotiations with Turkey, respectively with Croatia. It cannot be excluded that bilateral issues will be used to block progress on enlargement even in the future.

The negotiations on the next EU budgetary perspectives (2014 – 2020) will be also a test for the pro-enlargement rhetoric of the newer members. Further enlargement has to be reflected in the next budgetary perspectives but this will imply painful cuts for present member states.

Geography matters a lot for preferences with regard to further enlargement. Poland supports the present enlargement commitments of the EU but is at the same time very much interested in the European integration of its neighbors to the East. Even before joining the EU back in 2003 it launched a proposal for an Eastern EU-dimension that envisaged a future for Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova in the EU (but not for Russia). In the wake of the 2004 Orange revolution Ukraine voiced strong European aspirations that were supported by the four Visegrad countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia) but also by Lithuania.

The incumbent Bulgarian and Romanian governments have a rather weak bargaining position within the EU but in the future they might get more active in the development of a stronger Black Sea dimension of the EU.

Enlargement beyond the present commitments of the EU will depend also upon developments in Russia and the relations between Russia and the EU. EU’s Eastern neighbourhood is at the same time Russia’s near abroad.

The prospects for a continent-wide European Union are more than bleak at this moment. But the EU should try to deliver on its present commitments by 2020 if it really wants to be a global player.