Monika Brusenbauch Meislová and Vít Hloušek in an article for the Journal of Contemporary European Studies - Europe: a source of value or profit?

1 Jul 2024

Monika Brusenbauch Meislová and Vít Hloušek from the International Institute of Political Science and the Department of International Relations and European Studies published an article entitled "A tale of two memberships: analyzing post-2004 official governmental discourse on the EU in Czechia and Slovakia" in the Journal of Contemporary European Studies . In it, they examine the form and transformation of the official government discourses of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which legitimize membership in the European Union for citizens and institutions. They find remarkable continuity in both cases, but rather dramatic differences in why Czech and Slovak official communications see EU membership as beneficial and important.

In the Czech and Slovak political discourse, even after twenty years and the obvious advantages, membership in the European Union is not perceived as automatically legitimate. Monika and Vít decided to focus on a level that often stands aside from analysis, on the level of official discourses through which governments legitimize EU membership. Based on the strategic documents of the foreign and European policy of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which were valid in the years 2004-2023. Based on the research of discursive practices, they compared the way in which the Czech and Slovak governments legitimize the importance of membership for both states.
A remarkable finding was the stability of language and legitimization strategies, which was evident both in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Despite the somewhat stormy domestic political developments, the way in which both governments think about the EU is stable. This is even true for the 2023 program statement of Robert Fico's government.
Otherwise, however, the Slovak and Czech narratives are quite different, regardless of the common Czechoslovak roots of post-war foreign policy diplomacy. The EU is particularly advantageous for the Czech Republic, primarily economically. The Czech legitimization discourse is pragmatic and emphasizes the economic dimension of integration as a key factor why the Czech Republic should participate in it. However, it is also more critical of the EU than the official Slovak discourse. He sees EU membership in particular as a source of geopolitical and, even more, value anchoring of Slovakia. While a priori skeptical Czechs constantly talk about the need for integration reforms, Slovaks perceive the EU even after two decades of membership as a model from which it is possible to learn to better play the roles that modern politics and society require.

The full text is available as open source here .

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