EU accession presents candidate countries with challenges in their strategies to attain democratic standards. The approaching 10th anniversary of the V4 countries’ EU accession is a good opportunity to study its impact on the democratic developments. We aim to 1) learn from our own experience and identify V4 best practices; 2) share these lessons with current and prospective EU candidates in the Western Balkans thus facilitating their accession process.
Our starting point in the research is the political component of the Copenhagen criteria: stability of the institutions safeguarding democracy, rule of law, human rights, respect for and protection of minorities. To ensure comparability, during the kick-off meeting we identify the precise areas of inquiry and the methodology. Our innovation is that we explore both facts and perceptions. Through the analysis of already constructed performance indicators we study the time evolution of democratic developments while we also conduct interviews with political, academic and civil society actors about the accession’s effects on their respective countries.
Identifying anti-discrimination as a challenging area for both the Visegrad and the Western Balkan countries, the project focused on how the four countries in Central Europe adjusted to the requirements of the European Union in this area. To ensure that the lessons learnt reach the widest audience, the results were presented on an online platform on the EU accession experiences of the Visegrad countries, which has the potential to be further developed and include other areas of study in the future.
At the end of the project, the research results about the Visegrad countries were compiled in an online booklet available on the platform. Simultaneously, CENS developed ties with Balkan partners interested in using the V4 experience. These partners participated in the concluding conference for the launching of the platform which closed the project during the Hungarian V4 and CEI double presidency linking the Visegrad and Balkan regions.