Core–Periphery Relations and European Integration

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Core–periphery relations have always played an important role within nation-states, across regions and at the global level. Given the significance of core–periphery dynamics to state building, we would expect patterns of economic convergence and divergence to matter in the process of European integration. This chapter traces how the EU addressed its treaty commitment to ‘harmonious development’ as it deepened and widened following the original aim of the Treaty of Rome. We identify a series of significant phases in the EU’s response to core–periphery relations. A key argument is that every major development in the EU, with the exception of the euro, was accompanied by policy provisions designed to alleviate divergence.

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... In a similar manner, English School theorists like Buzan and Lawson (2012) analyze the historical development of core-periphery relationships. Such models have also been applied to politics in the European Union (Magone et al. 2016) and can even be found in the politics of the discipline itself (Tickner 2013). Recently, differentiation theories (Buzan/Albert 2010), theories of Empire (Coward 2005) and the new hierarchy studies (Bially Mattern/Zarakol 2016) have taken a more general view of how international structures propagate and entrench differences among units, but all of these focus more on structural inequality among states than on the concrete geographical expressions and causes thereof. ...
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Much of contemporary global politics has spatial dimensions but International Relations (IR) as a discipline has been remarkably reluctant to properly theorize space. This is due to a historical rejection of geopolitics, even though critical approaches from Political Geography have long broken with the geo-determinism of classical geopolitics, instead highlighting the dynamic nature of space. This article argues that IR has much to gain by taking up critical geographic writings on space, scale and territory. A spatial turn in IR would allow for a more systematic theorization how the natural and the built environment, and their respective changes, and the spatial conduct of politics affect each other. It would also make us more attentive to the spatial dimensions of governance. This article outlines a practice-oriented approach drawing on structuration theory to show how spaces are produced and illustrates the potential of this approach by showing how territory is enacted through territorial practices.
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Since the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, the EU has been in almost permanent crisis mode. It is witnessing new dimensions of internal differentiation among its member states, and the migration crisis has shown that the Central and Eastern European countries (CEEs) in particular are slowly but certainly transforming themselves from predominantly passive policy-takers towards becoming more active players in the process of shaping the EU’s governance agenda. This edited volume offers the first comprehensive and critical insight into how the CEEs position themselves in the EU’s changing internal and external environment, their stance towards the European integration process under current crisis conditions, and what political and economic strategies they prioritize.
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The main message of this paper is that there are two periods of Europeanization and Democratization in the ECE political systems with a transitory grey zone in the 2000s. They can be termed as the periods of “permissive tolerance” and “increasing disappointment” seen from the side of the ECE populations, and the periods of “formalities” and “alienation” in Europeanization from the side of the ruling elites. This paper tries to describe these two periods of the political systems in general and the party systems in particular. The first party systems of the young ECE democracies have collapsed in the 2010s due to the failure of the catching up process in the last Quarter-Century that has been aggravated by the effects of the global crisis. This paper argues that the decline of democracy in ECE has been accompanied with the rise of the second party system. The critical elections in the 2010s have also meant the change in the party system towards the dominance of the populist parties. The new dominant parties of the last decade represent also some kind of the political reaction to the global crisis management, since they express the dissatisfaction of the large masses suffering from the long-term effects of global crisis in the 2010s. The populist parties in ECE have usually become the governing mainstream parties, and they have completed the state capture in the form of democracy capture leading to the deconsolidation of the ECE political systems. The new wave of populism in ECE that has produced the “populist eruption” in the region, therefore this situation necessitates the elaboration of the comprehensive conceptual framework of the ECE new political systems based on the duality of the external and internal Europeanization.
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Abstract: This paper has been based on three assumptions that have been widely discussed in the international political science: (1) there has been a decline of democracy in East-Central Europe (ECE) with the emergence of “velvet dictatorships”, (2) the velvet dictatorships rely on the soft power of media and communication rather on the hard power of state violence that has provoked “cultural wars” and (3) the basic turning point is the transition from the former modernization narrative to the traditional narrative with “reinventing the past” and “reconceptualising modernity” through the reference to the historically given collective national identity by launching the “politics of historical memory”. The velvet dictatorships have been using and abusing the national history as an ideological drug to consolidate their power. The (social and national) populism and Euroscepticism are the basic twin terms to describe the soft power of the new (semi)authoritarian regimes. They are convertible, the two sides of the same coin, since they express the same divergence from the EU mainstream from inside and outside. Soft power means that the political contest in the new regimes has been transferred from the hard to the soft fields of politics as the fight between the confronting narratives. The victory of the traditionalist-nativist narrative carries also the message that the people are only passive “subjects” and not active citizens, so the field of politics has been extremely narrowed in the “new brave world” in ECE.
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