An East‑West Divide in the European Union? The Visegrad Four States in Search of the Historical Self in National Discourses on European Integration

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Abstract

This article explores whether a new east‑west divide exists in the enlarged European Union by analysing national discourses on European integration in the Visegrad Four (V4) states. Two V4 foreign policy legacies form the basis of analysis: the “Return to Europe” discourse and the discourses around the reconstruction of the historical self. The article gives evidence that the V4 countries share sovereignty in external policies and thus have a distinct European orientation. V4 national‑conservative governments hold sovereigntist positions, however, in policy areas that they consider falling exclusively within the realm of the member state. Comparison with Western European member states gives evidence that the post-1945 paradigm changes were more profound than those of post-1989 ones of Eastern Europe. This historic legacy can explain the more integrationist orientations in Western Europe. The article concludes that behaviour of the individual V4 state seems to be of greater importance for each member than collective V4 group action. Finally, the article gives an outlook on ways in which solidarity between the Western and Eastern halves of the EU can be exercised in an ideologically diverging Union.

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CiteScore 2018: 0.48

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