Think Visegrad in Brussels

In the first half of 2016, eight think-tanks from the Visegrad Group that have been cooperating in the Think Visegrad platform, agreed on the idea proposed by the EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy, to create a common representation office in Brussels. The main motivation for it is the need to encourage debate on issues of common interest to the EU and the V4 and explain the positions of the V4 to a wide audience. Think Visegrad in Brussels would like to project an image of constructive partners, to explain the dynamics of the debates within our regions and to highlight our active contributions to EU policy-making.

 

The project brings together all the members of the Think Visegrad network, namely:

 

Research Center of the Slovak Foreign Policy Association (RC SFPA), Bratislava (main coordinator)

GLOBSEC Policy Institute, Bratislava

Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW), Warsaw

The Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM), Warsaw

Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade (IFAT), Budapest

Centre for Euro-Atlantic Integration and Democracy (CEID), Budapest

EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy, Prague

Institute of International Relations (IIR), Prague

 

Activities

Activities in 2017

The pilot project was approved to continue in 2017 and the second phase was implemented from June to December 2017.

 

Public conferences

 

“The Western Balkans integration process: State of play in 2017”

 

Report [PDF]

 

The first conference took place on Wednesday, October 18th 2017, in the European Parliament. The event was organized in cooperation with MEP Eduard Kukan (EPP), Chair of the EU-Serbia SAPC and Delegation Chair of the AFET Working Group on Western Balkans. The debate aimed to evaluate the progress achieved in the Western Balkans so far in order to pick up the process that was delayed by the European Commission, which decided to publish the annual Progress Report on Western Balkans only in April 2018, and.

 

Mr Kukan provided welcoming remarks and the following panel discussion was moderated by Tomáš Strážay, Research Fellow, Slovak Foreign Policy Association (SFPA).

 

The panelists were the following:

 

Anna Orosz, Research Fellow, Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade (IFAT)

Ján Cingel, Acting Head of European Neighbourhood Programme, GLOBSEC Policy Institute

Marta Szpala, Senior Fellow, Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW)

Dušan Reljić, Head of Office, German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)

 

In the next part of the conference, the MEPs present were invited to share their comments and remarks:

 

MEP Cristian Dan Preda (EPP/RO), Rapporteur for Bosnia and Herzegovina

MEP Igor Soltes (Greens/SI), incoming Rapporteur for Kosovo

MEP Alojz Peterle (EPP/SI), Chair of the EU-FYROM JPC

 

The Director-General of DG NEAR, Mr. Christian Danielsson, provided 15-minute closing remarks building on the content of the discussions.

 

“Quo Vadis Eastern Partnership? A Retrospective look into The Future”

 

Report [PDF]

 

A second conference took place on Thursday, November 23rd, 2017. The event was organized in cooperation with the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, the Open Society European Policy Institute, the Slovak Foreign Policy Association and the European Endowment for Democracy (EED), which hosted the event.

 

The conference critically assessed the achievements of the Eastern Partnership policy, the effectiveness of its existing toolbox and the breadth of the changes it had so far fostered in the countries. The speakers also looked ahead to the upcoming Brussels Eastern Partnership summit and beyond and offered recommendations for calibrating the EU’s policy to better tackle the emerging trends and challenges in the region.

 

The event was opened by Jerzy Pomianowski, Executive Director of the European Endowment for Democracy. The keynote speech was provided by Linas Linkevičius, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania.

 

Natalia Yerashevich, Director of the Secretariat of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) and Zuzana Stuchlíková, Head of Brussels Office of EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy/Think Visegrad platform introduced their institutions and provided framing notes for the event.

 

The first panel “Assessing policy performance: the Eastern Partnership on the eve of the Brussels summit” focused on how the Eastern Partnership has delivered for the partner countries in terms of democratisation, reforms and Europeanisation and how successfully the EU has addressed the major challenges in the region.  The discussion was moderated by Iskra Kirova, Senior Policy Analyst, Open Society European Policy Institute and featured:

 

Boris Navasardyan, President, Yerevan Press Club, EaP CSF Steering Committee

Ziya Guliyev, Chair, Center for Legal Initiatives, EaP CSF Steering Committee

Timur Onica, Programme Officer, European Endowment for Democracy

Vano Chkhikvadze, EU Integration Field Manager, Open Society Georgia Foundation

Dmytro Shulga, European Programme Director, International Renaissance Foundation

 

The second panel “Eastern Partnership Quo Vadis? Expectations and recommendations for the next steps” tackled the expectations of the Eastern Partnership Summit, and asked whether the EU would be better equipped to respond to the emerging trends in the region and support a positive momentum on democratization and reform. The panel was moderated by Adam Balcer (nominated by the Polish members of the TV platform) and featured:

 

MEP Rebecca Harms, Euronest Co-Chair, European Parliament

Diana Jablonska, Head/Deputy of Unit, DG NEAR, European Commission

Ján Cingel, Acting Head of European Neighbourhood Programme, GLOBSEC Policy Institute

Alexander Duleba, Director of the Research Centre, Slovak Foreign Policy Association

Zsuzsanna Vegh, Researcher, Europa-Universität Viadrina

 

Expert roundtables

 

“The future of the Cohesion Policy in the new Multiannual Financial Framework: Perspectives from Central Europe”

 

Report [PDF]

 

The roundtable took place on October 26th, 2017 and brought together the four Ambassadors to the European Union of the Visegrad Countries, representatives of other Permanent Representations and prominent research centres. It was hosted by the Permanent Representation of Hungary to the EU, who also provided a breakfast for the attendees, in cooperation with the Hungarian Presidency of the V4. Cooperation with the Hungarian Permanent Representation in the lead up to the event was excellent and allowed for the organization of a true V4 event.

 

The event was moderated by Barbara Wieliczko, from SGH Warsaw School of Economics (also in charge of the long term analysis of the Cohesion Policy within the TV platform). All four V4 ambassadors participated in the event and provided detailed remarks about the future of the cohesion policy: H.E. Olivér Várhelyi (Hungarian Permanent Representation to the EU), H.E. Martin Povejšil (Czech Permanent Representation to the EU), H.E. Peter Javorčík (Slovak Permanent Representation to the EU) and H.E. Jarosław Starzyk, who was later replaced by Sebastian Barkowski, Chargé d’affaires a.i. to represent the Polish Permanent Representation to the EU.

 

“The EU after a year of crucial elections: Which new chances and challenges?”

 

Agenda [PDF]

 

The event was organized as a closed roundtable for selected experts (under Chatham House rule). The event was organized in cooperation with the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) and Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), two leading European think tanks. The event took place on November 21st in the premises of the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS).

 

After a brief welcome by Steven Blockmans, the Head of EU Foreign Policy Unit at CEPS, a keynote speech was delivered by Alfredo Conte, Head of Strategic Planning Division at EEAS, focusing on the implementation of the EU Global Strategy and the future global trends that will impact the development of the EU’s foreign policy

 

The first panel, “Future of the EU and the Eurozone in light of 2017 elections: What is at stake for further European Integration?“ focused on the European context of the recent elections in France, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. The panelists weighed in on the consequences those results could have on the dynamics of European integration in the near future. The panel was moderated by Zuzana Stuchlíková, Head of Brussels Office of EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy/Think Visegrad platform and featured:

 

Peter Becker, Senior Associate, SWP, Berlin

Martin Michelot, Deputy Director, EUROPEUM, Prague

Oliver Gruber, University of Vienna

Ondřej Houska, Hospodářské noviny (Czech economic daily)

                                                                                                                              

The second panel “After the elections: New chances for a deeper EU foreign, security & defence policy?” focused on perspectives of development in the field of Common Security and Defence Policy, and especially the promises brought forward by Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). The panel was moderated by Dušan Rejlić, Head of Brussels Office of SWP, and featured:

 

Ronja Kempin, Senior Fellow, SWP, Berlin

Steven Blockmans, Head of EU Foreign Policy Unit, CEPS

Dušan Fischer, Head of the International Security Programme, SFPA, Bratislava

 

Research

 

Mr. Andrzej Sadecki (OSW) stayed in Brussels from November 18th to November 26th. Paper title: “Regional coalition building regarding the MFF post 2021

Ms. Alena Kudzko (GLOBSEC) stayed in Brussels from November 22nd to November 28th. Paper title: “The labor market reform in the EU and the implications for Central Europe

Mr. Alexander Lagazzi (EUROPEUM) stayed in Brussels from November 20nd to November 26th. Paper title: “The role of the V4 in EU-China relations

 

Newsletters

 

Summer 2017

September – October

November – December

 

Activities in 2016

The pilot project was implemented by the Brussels office of EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy, one of the founding members of the Think Visegrad platform. It ran from June to December 2016 and the International Visegrad Fund financed it.

 

Events and external activities

 

– TVB organized two public debates in Brussels. The first conference was entitled The Visegrad Contribution to the EU Digital Single Market and took place on 30.11.2016. It was organized in close cooperation with the Polish Presidency of the Visegrad Group and hosted by the Permanent Representation of Poland to the EU. The second conference took place on 9. 12. 2016 and was called Security in Europe from a Visegraad viewpoint: strengthening fundamentals, but rethinking perspectives? The event in a round-table format was co-organized with the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) and the European Policy Institutes Network and hosted at CEPS premises.

 

– The roundtable with the title ‘Visegrad about the Future of the EU took place on 24. 10. 2016 and brought together the four Ambassadors to the European Union of the Visegrad Countries and twelve amongst the most prominent think-tanks in Brussels. It was hosted by the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Poland to the EU.

 

– The TVB Newsletter was one of the key communication tools aimed at a wide audience, with the objective to raise awareness about the Think Visegrad platform in mainly Brussels-based stakeholders. The Newsletter introduced the project and its members, including their presentation in each issue. Each issue summarized the gist of the TVB activities in the past and upcoming period, reporting on events and research fellowships. Four issues of the newsletter were sent over the period of the project:

 

Internal activities

 

– TVB commissioned a consultancy to carry out the legal and financial assessment, taking into account various scenarios of the TVB potential presence in Brussels. TVB submitted the feasibility study to the International Visegrad Fund at the end of September 2016

 

– Providing space and support for four experts (one from each V4 country) from V4 think tanks (not only Think Visegrad members) that would like to undertake short-term research in Brussels

 

 

– Providing monitoring to V4 think tanks on issues of relevance to them.

The four policy areas were agreed upon jointly with the partner institutions: security and foreign policy, economic issues, energy issues and digital agenda. (LINKS)

 

Throughout the pilot project, the following issues were delivered: