Two think tanks, the Bratislava-based Central European Policy Institute, and the Warsaw-based demosEUROPA – Centre for European Strategy, have started this joint project under the title “Central Europe in the EU – Interests, Values and the Future Agenda “ in January 2013. The goal of this project is to examine how Central Europe can best position itself in the redesigning of EU integration which is currently taking place. The future EU will have weaker common institutions, boosted relative power of the member-states, and a number of economic and political priorities which will vary from one part of Europe to another. In such an EU with a handful of large states and many smaller ones, regional groups of states will become an important tool of exercising influence. How effective Central Europe is at voicing its interests depends in large part on how it can organize itself on the regional level, and on what specific issues it decides to tackle in a collective effort.
The think tanks are advised by the high-level Reflection Group from the Visegrad Group countries and Austria. As the result of our work we have prepared a report "Central Europe fit for the future - Visegrad Group ten years after EU accession" that was published in January 2014.
The high-level working group is also focusing on increasing the influence of the region in Brussels, and on raising awareness of EU institutions to the interests of Central Europe.
In October 2014, members of the High Level Reflection Group published an open letter to the three presidents of the European institutions (President of the European Commission, President of the European Council and President of the European Parliament). The letter spells out Central Europe’s policy priorities for the EU agenda in the next five years. It suggests that Central Europe should aim at consolidation, reinvention and protection. By consolidation is about building an infrastructure for growth by deepening regional integration and connectivity, reinvention describes the need to revamp the region’s economic model and enhance its innovative potential, while protection has to do with filling the gaps in the region’s defences and projecting stability in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.
CEPI and demosEUROPA also initiated a MEP Caucus in Brussels for representatives of the broader region on the 3rd December, 2014.
In the second year of the project we have presented the report in numerous international events in Bratislava, Brussels, Budapest, Ljubljana, Prague and Warsaw, while later this year it will be also presented in Zagreb.
The High Level Reflection Group current members are:
Josef Christl, Founder & Manager, Macro-Consult, Vienna;
Danuta Hübner, Chair of the Regional Development Committee in the European Parliament (and former EU Commissioner for Regional Policy), Brussels;
Peter Javorčík, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MFEA) of the Slovak Republic;
Milan Ježovica, Consultant, M.E.S.A. 10 (and former State Secretary of MFEA), Bratislava;
Ivan Krastev, Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia, and Permanent Fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna;
Roman Kuźniar, Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of the Republic of Poland;
Edward Lucas, Senior Editor, The Economist, London;
Katarína Mathernová, Senior Adviser, The World Bank, Brussels;
Henryka Mościcka-Dendys, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland;
Rainer Münz, Head of Research and Knowledge Center, Erste Group Bank AG, Vienna;
Milan Nič, Executive Director, CEPI, Bratislava;
Jiří Schneider, former First Deputy Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic;
Martin M. Šimecka, Editor of Respekt news magazine, Prague;
Paweł Świeboda, President of demosEUROPA – Centre for European Strategy, Warsaw;
Réka Szemerkényi, Chief Advisor on Foreign and Security Policy, Office of the Prime Minister of Hungary;
Members of the Reflection Group participated in the project on a personal basis.