Eastern Journal of European Studies

e-ISSN: 2068-6633 | ISSN: 2068-651X

Volume 13  |  Special Issue |  October 2022

Special Issue: Focus on Central and Eastern Europe

Guest editor: Zoltan BRETTER 

Editorial: Focus on Central and Eastern Europe    

Author: Zoltan BRETTER  
In this special issue, the authors address the most diverse and pressing problems of Central and Eastern Europe in a comparative perspective which, indeed, was the major requirement for the articles to be admitted for peer review. Other, highly interesting, valuable articles were also submitted, which were referred to any regular issue of EJES.

Pages: 5-8 | Full text (PDF)


Borders connecting and dividing - East meets West and the borders of the European Union  

Authors: Andrea SCHMIDT  
Abstract: Central Europe is usually defined as a 'cleavage' between the East and the West, or as a conflict zone that was affected by two tendencies in its historical past; the idea of unity that implies a homogeneous region and resistance to these efforts, and the struggle for autonomy of the people living in Central Europe. Thus, this dual perception appears in its in-between position that allows adopting Western values while keeping Eastern traditions at the same time. The purpose of the paper is to examine whether the postmodern perception of borders, the problem of a "borderless Europe", and the perception of Orientalism as a critical framework originally aimed at understanding Western (imperialist) mechanisms, can be adapted to grasp identity-building issues in our region. This paper aims to examine how the perception of "East', and "Central' appears in the post-totalitarian world, the legacy of post-colonialism, and the growing geopolitical importance of orientation.
Keywords: borders, post-colonialism, orientation, regionalisation, security,
Pages: 9-32 | Full text (PDF)


Eastern Europe, Central Europe, or East Central Europe? Imagined geography of the region  

Author: Leszek NOWAK
Abstract: The aim of the article is to analyse several concepts that expressed different perceptions about the region of Central and Eastern Europe. The article proves that the choice of terminology is crucial in the discussion of the political and cultural identity of the region. The starting point is the Enlightenment concept of Eastern Europe, which suggested the backwardness and secondary status of this region. This concept is confronted with the concept of Slavophilism, inspired by Romanticism. The article argues that this idea, which initially expressed the ambitions of the region's independence, later became an instrument of Russian imperialism. In the concept of Central Europe, as the article proves, there is a certain ambiguity: on the one hand, it contains elements of German liberal imperialism, a special role, especially economic, played by Germany in this region. On the other hand, intellectuals from this region gave the concept of Central Europe an idealized meaning that still inspires many authors writing about the region. Finally, the author analyses the concept of and East Central Europe, which is most justified by academic knowledge, but does not inspire political imagination to such an extent. In conclusion, the article refers to the relevance of some of these concepts and their interpretative potential, which depends on the current political situation.   
Keywords: Eastern Europe, Central Europe, East Central Europe, Imagined Geography,   
Pages: 33-52 | Full text (PDF)


Is the Visegrad Group disintegrating? A case study on the diversification of the Visegrad states' EU enlargement policy since 2014

Authors: Christopher WALSCH  
Abstract: This contribution asks to which extent it is correct to say that Visegrad Four (V4) states' governments today have a more differentiated approach to the enlargement of the European Union (EU) compared to ten years ago. An older story of V4 functioning as a role-model concerning transformation and integration is still present in the framework and appearance in the regional format Visegrad Group. The various crises of the 2010s contributed to the fact that in parallel, considerable ad-hoc group or individual action is also prevalent. A qualitative method will be applied, based on the analysis of primary documents and on an initial review of the research literature on the subject. Research on V4 and Western Balkans (WB) states will be presented along three levels of governance: 1. the regional level as expressed in the V4 format; 2. Visegrad member states in coalition (alternative regional formats, ad-hoc/thematic coalitions within and beyond the region); 3. individual action of a V4 government. The conclusion reflects critically on the possible consequences of changes happening at all three levels involved. In particular, the ongoing war of Russia against Ukraine is currently dividing the Visegrad states and could lead to further disintegration of the Visegrad Group. .
Keywords: EU enlargement, Visegrad Group, Central Europe, regional cooperation, minilateralism,
Pages: 53-72 | Full text (PDF)


Threshold impact of corruption on income inequality-social transfers nexus in Central and Eastern Europe

Authors: Emin Efecan AKTAS   
Abstract: Corruption, which adversely affects macroeconomic aspects such as growth, investment, and income distribution, causes the anticipated accomplishment from social transfers not to be realized. In this study, the income inequality effects of social transfers under the corruption threshold are investigated with the annual data of 19 Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) countries for the period 1999-2019. Following Hansen's (1999) and Wang's (2015) modeling, it has been detected that corruption has a significant threshold effect on this relationship. Two thresholds have been specified. Below the first threshold of 3.520, the relationship between social transfers and income inequality is inverse. Above this threshold level and the second threshold value of 3.577, the relationship is in the same direction. In 19 CEE countries, it can be concluded that an augmentation in the corruption and the abuse of social transfers by public officials may amplify income inequality.     
Keywords: corruption, social transfer, income inequality, threshold, 
Pages: 73-98 | Full text (PDF)


Effectiveness of the European Union grants to civil society in the Baltic states: an evaluation of the EU program 'Europe for Citizens' (2007-2020)  

Authors: Janis KAPUSTANS
Abstract: The aim of this article is to evaluate the effectiveness of the European Union's 'Europe for Citizens' program by analyzing the situation of the Baltic states in the context of the overall EU level, as well as comparing Latvia with neighboring Estonia and Lithuania. Within the frameworks of the two actions ('European Remembrance Projects' and 'Civil Society Projects') in the 'Europe for Citizens' program for the two periods (2007-2013) and (2014-2020), both the financial support of the European Union to the most active groups of civil society (top-down) and a very high activity of civil society by project application have been examined. Under approved projects, various activities were developed, promoting public participation both at the local level and among the citizens of various European Union countries, thus starting to influence the processes at the EU level (bottom-up) as well. The data show that the population of all three Baltic states has a high sense of belonging to the European Union, well above the EU average.
Keywords: civil society, the European Union, Europe for Citizens, Europeanization, the Baltic states,
Pages: 99-119 | Full text (PDF)


Legal and practical conditions of the functioning of the civil society organizations in Hungary and Poland 

Authors: Laszlo KAKAI, Agnieszka BEJMA
Abstract: The initial democratic transitions in Central and Eastern Europe resulted in the emergence of re-combined civil societies across the region. The most important were the quality of democracy in individual countries, the resources and strength of independent civic initiatives, the role of the state in financing and supporting emerging civil sectors. Yet, it is the consensus view, that all post-communist countries share weak and structurally deficient civil societies, in fact, correct? This study introduces the way Central and Eastern Europe tackled the state socialist past through the example of Hungary and Poland. The hypothesis that will be verified in the article is that actions taken by the Hungarian and Polish governments lead to increased control and public power over the activities of civil organizations, which limits their development and functioning. Has the civil society been able to form an independent entity within the once politicized state in terms of organization, embeddedness, and national economic importance? 
Keywords: civil society, non-profit sector, Poland and Hungary,
Pages: 120-140 | Full text (PDF)


Maternity benefit: comparison of systems and financing in V4 countries

Author: Danuta DUDA, Kamila TURECKOVA, Ivona BURYOVA, Radka KUBALOVA 
Abstract: Maternity leave is a standard social policy instrument implied in the family life of citizens of developed economies, but the actual scheme and conditions of the maternity leave and maternity benefit vary considerably from one country to another, even in the case of the usual regional units. Hence, the paper makes a deductive comparison of the individual maternity benefit systems in the V4 countries, specifying mutual similarities and partial differences, and processing them into an overview summary scheme. The descriptive part is complemented by an empirical analysis of the development of financing of maternity benefit within the social security systems in the period 2010-2019. The uniqueness of the elaborated topic lies in the absence of similar topics published so far, including the conclusion that Slovakia progressively approached the support of maternity through a significant financial and systemic strengthening of its status within its social system during the period under review.   
Keywords: maternity benefit, maternity leave, parental leave, financing, social security systems, V4 countries, comparison,
Pages: 141-163 | Full text (PDF)


Second parliamentary chambers as safeguards against democratic backsliding? Case study of Czech and Polish senates 

Author: Petr JUST, Jakub CHARVAT
Abstract: The Czech Republic and Poland represent countries with bicameral parliaments, where the existence of second chambers has often been questioned because both countries represent unitary political systems. While the demand for territorial representation is often quoted as the key reason for establishing second chambers, there are other principles of second chamber representation and / or roles they are playing. One of them is the expansion of the checks-and-balances system beyond the traditional executive - legislative - judicial triangle. The existence of two chambers also brings the check-and-balance principle inside the legislative branch itself. Second chambers are thus understood as certain guarantors of constitutionality and democracy. The article focuses on the role the second chambers in the Czech Republic and Poland have played in the process of preventing democratic backsliding, a recent phenomenon visible in CEE. The problem will be analyzed in the context of the compositional (in)congruence, the constitutional position and powers of both second chambers. It will also analyze whether the current Czech and Polish institutional frameworks allow for second chambers to act as guarantors of constitutionality and democracy.
Keywords: bicameralism, Senate, democratic backsliding, Czech Republic, Poland,
Pages: 164-182 | Full text (PDF)


Comparative populism: Romania and Hungary

Authors: Zoltan BRETTER
Abstract: The paper aims to test the mechanism of autocratic populism (term which will be used as a synonym for illiberal democracy) in Hungary and Romania. A mechanism could help to better explain the phenomenon of populism across different spatiotemporal settings in which it occurs, therefore it is suitable for a common understanding of populism. I am going to use a minimal definition of liberal democracy as well as authoritarian populism and compare Romania and Hungary along three major components of the mechanism: constitutionalism (division of powers), the cultural construction of "the people" and the different conditions of the emergence of a charismatic personality. Investigating political processes will show why authoritarian populism or illiberal democracy has gained prominence in Hungary but has failed in Romania.        
Keywords: Hungary, Romania, autocratic populism, illiberalism, political mechanism, political culture,
Pages: 183-206 | Full text (PDF)


Hybrid foreign policies in the EU's Eastern flank: adaptive diplomacy

Authors: Peter KACZIBA, Baris HASAN
Abstract: Over the past decade, an increasing number of EU countries have diversified their foreign policies. The new directions aimed to maintain the benefits of Western alliances but sought to attract non-Western partners. The paper argues that not only domestic factors triggered these strategic shifts, and the systemic emergence of multipolarity, which forced states to respond to the rise of new powers. The study aims to identify how selected countries (Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus) located in the EU's eastern flank have responded to the multipolar transition and what foreign policy acts they have adopted. Findings reveal that sample states did not follow the expected straightforward selection of foreign policy acts, starting with bandwagoning during the unipolar momentum, continuing with hedging when non-Western actors emerge, and ending with balancing in times of external security threats. On the contrary, they applied multiple strategies simultaneously. The paper labels this hybrid foreign policy as adaptive diplomacy which seeks to capture the needs of small states to constantly adapt, but also indicates that EU and NATO members can apply proactive diplomacy to navigate between great power interests.
Keywords: foreign policy, multipolarity, balancing, bandwagoning, hedging, European Union,
Pages: 207-235 | Full text (PDF)


Perspectives on future trends and opportunities in a changing world - with a special focus on the Visegrad Countries

Author: Zoltan VOROS
Abstract: The paper addresses the prospects and directions for the Visegrad nations' economies that should be produced and highlighted, with the purpose of giving substantive conclusions that policymakers and decision makers can use to determine their economies' future paths. Although the Visegrad countries are highlighted, the paper is a theoretical research that focuses on the technique of futures studies, specifically on determining the driving causes and significant areas, sectors - that will shape and define the future. To begin, we will examine the methodologies of futures studies and the changes brought about by the multidisciplinary approach, before highlighting and defining the positive and negative drivers of development, which will enable us to pinpoint those critical areas and sectors. The paper identifies six of these directions that can characterize and drive humanity's growth in the coming decades and discusses how the Visegrad countries can profit from them.
Keywords: V4, futures studies, scenarios, trends, opportunities,
Pages: 236-259 | Full text (PDF)


Mihaela Tofan, Tax Avoidance and European Law. Redesigning Sovereignty Through Multilateral Regulation, Routledge: London

Author: Ionel BOSTAN  
Pages: 260-261  | Full text (PDF)


EJESİ Centre for European Studies - Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iași 2010 |