Is EU Membership lesser than evil? Gloomy Impressions from the economic Landscape in East Central Europe

I have been an inhabitant of the “new Europe” since 1999. The stamp I use to print my address on an envelope, however is a product of the “old Europe”, made by the Austrian firm “Trodat”. I ordered it last spring; my previous stamp had been purchased from a local competitor of the Austrians at a similar price, and had served my needs for three years just as well. I had changed the producer by accident or perhaps because “Trodat” is more readily available. It was only later that I learnt about the success of the Austrian company in East Central Europe. In the Czech Republic, e.g., it sells about one million stamps per year, as a “Trodat” representative told me, and holds far more than 90 per cent of the market. How could this happen? The former Hapsburg lands have a long bureaucratic tradition. It was in this region (Hungary) that the ballpoint pen was invented in 1938. The Czech lands were the most industrialized in the region, even when compared with Austria. Is this region now incapable of producing its own rubber stamps, just 65 years later? And if this is not the case why is it that their domestic products, which (in many cases) offer the same quality at a comparable price, are losing market share to the competition? (1)

Why is it that the future members of the EU to the east are importing not only dishwashers and Mercedes limousines from the West, but even nails, paper and grain? (2) When the radical Polish peasant leader Andrzej Lepper recently chucked out of the railway wagons German wheat that had just crossed the border, the Polish miller waiting for the delivery argued that it was cheaper for him to process wheat from West Germany than Polish wheat. Of course, the reason for this might be in the economies of scale, which gives large German farms an advantage against small Polish ones. Facing the protests in a case such as this, a liberal economist might argue that economic life is a bargaining process and economics is a mathematical science from which “moral values are obviously extruded.” (3)

Another reason for the success of German wheat, certainly, is the subventions to EU farmers. EU agricultural policy and subsidies, as we know, have little in common with free market prices. But this is not the only point where a closer look at the developments between the two halves of Europe unveils economic absurdities and riddles we used to associate with the years prior to 1989. Each of them, presumably, has an (economic or quasi economic) explanation of its own. This leads me to a new, broader question: who has been and who will be the beneficiary of cross-border economic cooperation, and what impact will EU enlargement have on the new member states?

On the one hand, many politicians across Europe believe (or pretend to believe) that EU enlargement is a “win-win game” and that all participants understand this. None within the establishment likes to argue when the European hymn (“all men become brethren”) is sung The glass palaces of Brussels appear to be the European equivalent of the Statue of Liberty, where inscribed on the pedestal are these words from Emma Lazarus’ poem “The New Colossus”:

 “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The overall calculation saying that the enlargement will require an expenditure of roughly 40 billion Euros on behalf of the new member countries (for the period 2004-2006; minus 15 billion for their EU membership fees) seems to confirm that the new members will be the winners in this process. Provided their administrations are able to absorb and, what is in many cases is a conditio sine qua non, “co-finance” the payments from Brussels. He who has 1,000 Euro shall be given another 2,000 Euro.

On the other hand, the intellectuals of East Central Europe have argued that never before when new states have entered the EU has there been such a huge gap between the needs of the new and the (insufficient) solidarity of the old. The writer Andrzej Stasiuk seems to share the skepticism he observed among the inhabitants of Poland’s South-Eastern borderlands:

“Open borders don’t impress him who knows that traveling is a thing for the rich and for himself means, at best, a humiliating work force migration. These simple people feel instinctively that the promised world of affluence and freedom will be a world only for the chosen. There is never enough wealth for all, and those who come last, most often don’t get anything. Every half-way literate peasant in my region understands this truth.” (4)

The West European leaders’ policy of telling their voters that “nobody is losing a single cent” due to the enlargement seems to confirm the Polish peasants’ fear. Nevertheless, the enlargement arrangements provide for equal treatment in 2013, when agricultural subsidies for the East will reach the Western level. The numerically strong representation of the new members in the European institutions, as agreed upon at the Nice summit, gives a chance to fight for this or that additional benefit, as long as the voting system is not altered.

But money, especially in the form of subsidies, is not everything. From until 2013, and perhaps beyond, the broader question remains unanswered. Will the treatment of East Central Europe live up to the principles of justice and fair play, and will the region and its citizens get equal opportunities, do they have a chance for sustainable development?

These questions are difficult to answer, but they are far from being rhetorical. My fears concerning the well being of the future EU members are the following: Firstly, their region will be primarily a consumer market for Western companies and, secondly, will become their extended workbench. Next, Western Europe will by all means – and it has the means to do so – attract the lion’s share of strategic investment available in Europe. This means technological progress, skilled jobs and social stability for Western Europe, whereas the negative effects of globalization will hit East Central Europe more severely than the other regions of the continent and might outweigh the positive effects.

To be somewhat more specific: Once the new members enter the community, a sweeping success of Western products might lead to a bankruptcy of tens of thousands of domestic companies – compare the development in former East Germany (although in our case it would be extended over time and somewhat mitigated by the currency barrier). Goods and services from the West, superior in marketing and distribution (and quality?), superior by virtue of the experience and capital basis of their producers, soon will outrank most of their fledgling competitors, as the “Trodat” example has shown. Soon, the rubber stamps and the influenza vaccine, the bathroom tiles and the ceiling lighting will come from abroad. This process is well underway, as I observe in Polish shops daily. In many cases, this may serve the interests of the consumers (especially of those who are more affluent); the impact on the labor market, though, could be disastrous. I believe that the “old” Europe, unlike West Germany in the years following 1990, is not ready to pay the social costs of this “win-win” development. Social policy is still the domain of individual countries.

Secondly, the takeovers of East Central European companies will make these countries the extended workbench of the West. This certainly means, to some extent, the creation of (rather unskilled) jobs, although no miracle should be expected (5). But increasingly jobs and wages in East Central Europe will be decided upon abroad. In the case of the banking system, this is even true of the citizens’ savings. The new EU members will hardly be able to enlarge their own large companies or even to defend existing ones (as Germany, through the lex Volkswagen defending the company from hostile takeover since 1960 and struggling against Brussels’ regulations, has been doing until now).

Again, one might argue that the West-Eastern company takeovers are “economically inevitable” and “in the interest of the consumer”. The circumstances and consequences of some takeovers, though, remain controversial. The takeovers in the Czech banking sector, which Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus tried to avoid until a crisis struck the economy in 1997, are good examples. Let us keep in mind that the takeover of Ceska Sporitelna by Austria’s Erste Bank, as with many others, happened only after the Czech government agreed to forgive bad loans, to be paid for by the Czech tax payer. Another effect of the takeover was the closure of 300 out of the 1000 branches (branch offices) of Ceska Sporitelna. This reminds me of the ironic saying “Nationalize the losses, privatize the gains”. The gains accrue to Austria, the losses remain Czech. “We enjoy a good living at the cost of those whom we actually ought to help”, comments former Austrian vice-chancellor Erhard Busek. (6)

The overall result of this and other takeovers is that Erste Bank and other large Austrian banks are in a good economic shape – thanks mainly to gains earned in neighboring countries. When I asked an expert at the consulting company PriceWaterhouseCoopers, who specializes in this region, what could happen if Western banks continue to have poor earnings in their “motherlands”, he answered: “If the bank enters a crisis, it will knock at the door of its subsidiary company and ask it for, say, half of its capital reserves. The supervising authorities would hardly take notice. But since these reserves will not save the company anyway, both banks will collapse altogether.”

Thirdly, I am afraid that the distribution of strategic investment (and with it: technology, know-how and skilled, well-paid jobs) across Europe after 2004 will hardly differ from the distribution before. The gap in development will remain for decades, and the scheme called “St. Matthew’s principle” will continue to operate: “To every one that hath shall be given, and he shall abound.” Hopefully, without the continuation: “But he that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken from him.”

While the new members are preparing to receive EU subsidies, the old member states are cultivating their national subsidy practices. The most impressive example, perhaps, is the East German Länder that used their own as well as federal subsidies to attract large investors. They can more or less continue to do so, whereas the new EU members, thanks to Brussels and its enlargement negotiators, will lose their main bargaining chip, which was the granting of tax holidays in 2004. Equal opportunities?

Take the automobile industry, so vital to the economy as a whole. It has indeed placed investments in East Central Europe, which were milestones in the development of the region. Skoda, in majority owned by Volkswagen, even some years ago made up more than 9 percent of the Czech Republic’s exports (7), and in Slovakia, cars amount to an even higher 17 percent. Poland produces Opel, VW, Fiat and formerly produced Daewoo, Hungary Opel and Audi. According to a decision made in 2002, the Peugeot-Citroen group will invest 1.5 bln Euro in a car plant in the Czech Republic, and this year Peugeot/Citroen decided to produce cars in Trnava, Western Slovakia (investing 700 mln Euro). For the lucky latecomer in the region this is the “investment of the decade”, and soon little Slovakia will belong to the 15 largest car manufacturers in the world.

Equal opportunities? East Germany attracted a similar investment sum, more than 1.7 bln, during the past two years, not however, because the German workforce is cheaper. Obviously, it is not. East Germany was successful because the Germans paid the investors subsidies of up to 35 percent of the total investment: they paid 400 mln Euro to BMW in Leipzig, 70 mln to VW in Dresden, 57 mln to DaimlerChrysler/Mitsubishi in Kölleda. France was also successful in attracting a Toyota plant due to a huge subsidy.

These public funds were – according to the statements of the automobile firms – crucial to their decisions not to go to Poland, to the Czech Republic or Hungary as they threatened to do, but rather to Germany and France. Their argument sounds ludicrous: conditions there are so bad for investment that you have to bribe me if you want me to come. I must admit that the answer the government of Saxony gave me when I asked about this is quite cynical: “Poland, not being an EU member, can subsidize investments with any sum it wants. We can only give 35 percent, due to EU regulations.” The whole truth is that Poland theoretically could by law, but it simply doesn’t have “any sum it wants”. Germany had 400 mln Euro to give to BMW to lure them to Leipzig – and that’s what happened. These national subventions will not cease to exist after 2004.

So, when will East Central Europe in terms of economy and industry emerge from the periphery? Will these countries be able to catch up to or perhaps even overtake the West? Can the hope of Poland’s former prime minister Jerzy Buzek materialize that “our countries (i.e. the Visegrad countries) cannot be the best everywhere, but in the field of the most modern technologies we want to be among the top European countries by 2010″? There are signs of hope. The mobile phone net in Hungary was established a few months earlier than in sluggish Austria. The Czech Republic is supposedly the world record holder in the number of sms messages per capita. But I can hardly believe that this specific sort of technical progress alone can bring about wealth and sustainable growth.

The Western public tends not to see the burdens the candidate countries are carrying, with their citizens working harder, but still earning Eastern wages and quite often paying Western prices (and sometimes even more!). There are many negative phenomena that are being ignored: Foreign observers are concentrating on the sums of new foreign investments in the region, but there are no statistics on investors who have pulled out (8). It took a long time for even the European Commission to understand that the required co-financing from the national budgets for structural projects supported by EU would become an enormous problem for the candidate countries. And, of course, even if the national statistics say that Hungary or Poland are doing relatively well, we hardly know what is going on to the East of the Danube or in the Mazury region or in poor Pomerania. The regional differences and social inequalities within the countries which communism had equalized to some extent are becoming more pronounced.

So, we will have to mitigate our expectations as to the future of this region. Will the enlarged EU within the next 30 years see an equal distribution of civil rights and freedoms? Certainly yes. Will the EU see an equal distribution of opportunities, of wealth, of the standard of living, of sustainable development, of social security? Certainly not. The border dividing Europe is 10 times and in some respects even 30 times older than the short life span of the communist regimes, and it is difficult to believe that a few years of subsidies or foreign investment can do away with this heritage.

Two great historians of the 20th century, the Pole Oskar Halecki and the Hungarian Jenö Szücs, drew attention to this border, which more or less follows the eastern frontier of Charlemagne’s empire. It runs along the rivers Elbe and Saale, thus dividing what now is Germany, then along the mountain ridge between Bavaria and the Czech lands, and continues somewhere to the East of Vienna, near the river Leitha. In his book “The three historical regions of Europe” Szücs writes:

“The sharp line of demarcation in economic and social structures which divided Europe from the year 1500 on (…) was reproduced with surprising accuracy along the border at the Elbe and Leitha from the year 800. And even more: Half a millennium later Europe is divided nearly exactly along this line (with one deviation in Thuringia) more radically than ever into two “camps”. It was as if Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt had studied accurately the status quo of Charlemagne’s epoque, 1130 years after the death of the emperor.” (9)

So, will East Central Europe be doomed to continue along “from periphery to periphery”, as the Hungarian-American historian Ivan Berend put it? (10) Certainly, the region will have to live with what the Polish sociologist Jadwiga Staniszkis calls “incomplete capitalism” (11). To some extent, this will be a “capitalism from the outside” (12). The region will have a “dual economy” with a booming sector dominated by foreign companies and their subsidies, concentrated on some islands of growth and development, and a domestic sector which will be struggling very hard to survive. The region will import from “the West” rubber stamps and influenza vaccine, bathroom tiles and a large number of food products, and with it a lot of unemployment, while being barred from the labor market for (at the worst) seven hard years. Altogether, the region will remain on the periphery. Perhaps a privileged one, if one compares it to other peripheries in the world. Perhaps as a region which is under the political umbrella of the United States, but doesn’t share its wealth.

I am still waiting for someone to convince me that the longue durée of backwardness in East Central Europe will come to an end. For the time being, the diagnosis Zysman and Schwartz put forward in their book on the industrial integration of Europe seems most realistic: The chance these countries are facing is to grasp as high-ranking a place as possible in the international division of labor. (13) While starting from the position of the economic underdog, they can only hope that even in times of globalization there are different ways to catch up and develop a national economy, as Great Britain and later on Germany have shown in the 19th century. (14)

Why join the European Union? Does membership pay in economic terms? The answer is – it does only if we accept that it is better to be the poor cousin in a rich family than vice versa. Then we can subscribe to the words of Andrzej Stasiuk: “It is some sort of way out.” Not more than that.

Copyright © 2003 by the author & Tr@nsit online.
All rights reserved. This work may be used, with this header included, for noncommercial purposes. No copies of this work may be distributed electronically, in whole or in part, without written permission from Transit.

Gerhard Gnauck ist Korrespondent der WELT in Warschau und war 2003 Milena Jesenská Visiting Fellow am IWM


1. Thanks to a Milena Jesenska fellowship granted by IWM in Vienna, I took a look at economic developments in the region, while not being an economist; nevertheless I want to defend the right, if not the obligation, of non-economists to comment upon economic developments. I feel encouraged by economists as Joseph Stiglitz, whose critique of what he calls a primitive “privatization-liberalization-stabilization” ideology applied to post-socialist countries offers important insight (Globalization and its Discontents, New York 2002).

2. In 2000, e.g., Poland imported nails and screws for $ 145 million, paper and cardboard for $ 1,4 billion, milk and cream for $ 57 million and fresh eggs for $ 5,7 million. See Gazeta Prawna, 4.-6.7. 2003, for the figures and the commentary of economist Prof. Mieczyslaw Kabaj.
3. John K. Galbraith, A History of Economics, London 1987, p. 125. This, according to the author, applies especially to price fixing.
4. Andrzej Stasiuk: Europa – Nein Danke. In: DIE WELT, 17.02. 2001. Stasiuk does not oppose EU membership but feels unable to greet it with euphoria or even “simple joy”. He agrees with his Hungarian colleague Adam Bodor in saying that membership is “some sort of way out”, furthermore, a “marriage of convenience, a way (for the tired West) to uphold its fading strength”.
5. Ewa Freyberg, undersecretary of state in Poland’s Ministry of Economy, proudly presented a study saying that even if, theoretically, Poland fully absorbed the EU means offered from 2004 through 2006, unemployment would drop by 0,69 percentage points in 2004, by 1,44 p.p. in 2005, and by 2,14 p.p. in 2006 (currently it amounts to 18 percent). Freyberg noted that absorption may vary from 30 to 70 percent. Meeting with Ewa Freyberg at Warsaw University, Nov. 26th, 2002
6. Public debate with Dr. Erhard Busek in Vienna, January 10th, 2003. On the significance of the “Eastern business” for the well-being of Austria’s banks, compare Michaela Seiser: Österreichs Banken spüren eine kräftige Ertragsdelle. Starke Verankerung in Osteuropa stützt die Ergebnisse aber deutlich. In: F.A.Z., 11.3. 2003.
7. Reinhard Engel: Der harte Weg nach Europa. Wien 1999, p. 183. Mr. Engel was one of my valuable conversation partners. I would like to thank him and all the others in Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia I have not mentioned here.
8. Hungary, earlier the shooting star among the new economies, has recently seen the closure of a couple of foreign-owned plants, the largest being IBM at Szekesfehervar with 5,000 employees.
9. Jenö Szücs, Die drei historischen Regionen Europas, S. 15 (my translation). Szücs wrote his book in 1983; he died in 1988. See also Oskar Halecki: The limits and divisions of European History, 1950.
10. Ivan T. Berend, Central and Eastern Europe 1944-1993. Detour from the periphery to the periphery. Cambridge 1996.
11. Jadwiga Staniszkis, Postkomunizm. Proba opisu. Gdansk 2001, passim.
12. Interview with the Hungarian-American sociologist Ivan Szelenyi, Budapest, Feb. 5th, 2003. Szelenyi spoke about China’s step-by-step “capitalism from below”, strongly resembling European capitalism, Russia’s “capitalism from above”, made by the former Nomenklatura, and the “capitalism from outside” through foreign direct investment, which, according to Szelenyi, hampered the creation of a bourgeoisie especially in Hungary.
13. John Zysman and Andrew Schwartz, ed., Enlarging Europe: The Industrial Foundations of a New Political Reality. Berkeley 1998, p.2: „…in many cases the critical issues will be how Eastern Europeans will participate in value chains of the main companies of the advanced countries.”
14. Alexander Gerschenkron, Economic Backwardness in Historical Perspective. In Bert F. Hoselitz (ed.), The Progress of Underdeveloped Areas. Chicago 1952.



Related Content

  • The Trap of Being New Europe

    In the face of the migration crisis and populist shift within the EU, the outmoded and stale division between New and Old Europe is coming back into favor in European public debate. The concept of ‘New Europe’ can easily serve to explain and at the same time to normalize, in a politically correct way, a qualitative difference between Western Europe and its Eastern neighbors. From a Central and Eastern European perspective, however, the term ‘New Europe’ seems essentially contradictory, since being a part of Europe in its cultural and political dimensions always was and still is an undebatable assumption.
    Read more

  • Shedding Light on Corruption: A Small Romanian Victory

    “We see you”. This short message, projected on a building near the Romanian government's headquarters, was the main message from hundreds of thousands of people to their politicians. At 9 PM local time, on Sunday, 5 February 2017, some 250,000 people turned on their mobile phones' flashlights, in a symbolic gesture of “shedding light on corruption”. A total of 600,000 people gathered in Romania that night, making it the largest protest movement in the country since 1989.
    Read more

  • Invalid Anti-Migrant Referendum in Hungary

    Despite all the immoral and unlawful efforts of the government to influence the Hungarian voters, the majority of them did not cast votes, and made the referendum invalid. Disregarding this result, at the night of the referendum, Prime Minister Orbán announced the amendment of the constitution “in order to give a form to the will of the people.”
    Read more

  • Austria: The Lesson of the Far Right

    The presidential election situation that arose in Austria in May and will be repeated in October—a run-off between the Greens and the far right—has never occurred in Europe before. But it starkly reveals a fundamental political conflict that can be found in many Western democracies today. This conflict is not meaningfully described as one of “ordinary people versus the establishment.” In Austria, both the Freedom Party and the Green Party have been “established” since the mid-1980s; in Britain, Boris Johnson, one of the main faces of the Brexit campaign, is about as establishment as one can get in the UK; and Donald Trump is hardly the authentic representative of Main Street. Rather, on one side of the new conflict are those who advocate more openness: toward minorities at home and toward engagement with the world on the outside.
    Read more

  • The Warsaw NATO Summit and beyond

    Obama’s criticism and the embarrassing act of censorship of his speech notwithstanding, the NATO Warsaw Summit proved on balance to be successful for Poland’s foreign policy goals, as well as those of NATO’s other Eastern Allies, as they have managed to secure NATO’s increased presence on the Eastern flanks as part of a defence against, and a deterrent to, Putin’s Russia. Nevertheless, with the UK gradually losing its influence following the Brexit referendum and most likely leaving the EU within a few years, Poland and NATO’s Eastern Allies are losing an important ally that provided significant political support for these countries in the EU and NATO. Law and Justice may also face growing isolation on the European level, especially if it does not find an acceptable solution for the constitutional crisis and continues questionable practices in the media sphere.
    Read more

  • Eastern Europe Is Both Dreading Brexit and Ready for It

    What seemed impossible even a year ago now seems fated. The European Union will probably be better run with Britain out, but it is unlikely to survive if the British next week decide to leave. “The Radetzky March” is particularly apt here because, though the focus after a Leave victory will be on Britain, the real disaster will befall Roth’s literary stamping grounds of Central and Eastern Europe. Indeed, in a very real way, the disintegration of Europe will be set off by Brexit, but it will take place far to the east.
    Read more

  • Behind the New German Right

    Throughout its postwar history, Germany somehow managed to resist the temptations of right-wing populism. Not any longer. It is now possible to be an outspoken nationalist without being associated with—or, for that matter, without having to say anything about—the Nazi past.
    Read more

  • America Hasn’t Gone Crazy. It’s Just More Like Europe

    In comparing themselves with Europe, Americans prided themselves on the fact that “It can’t happen here” — namely, European socialism and European fascism. It viewed itself as immune to the pathologies of democracy: Crowds can go crazy in any other place in the world, but not in America, the land of common sense. But after the last years of extreme polarization and dysfunctional governance, are Americans still convinced that their democracy cannot be upended?
    Read more

  • Committee for the Defense of Democracy in Poland: Rebellion of the “Beneficiaries of the Transformation”?

    KOD is avoiding sensitive subjects, which could divide its sympathizers, but at the same time with its moderate postulates it discourages those Poles who blame the former centrist government for its cultural conservatism and economic neoliberalism. By integrating different party groups, KOD is building its political capital, but at the same time it pays a high price for it. It is easy for PiS to frame these social protests as a revolt by those who lost the election and cannot accept their defeat.
    Read more

  • An Unruly Younger Generation? Student Protest and the Macedonian Crisis

    Student protest has been a regular occurrence in the Balkans in recent years. While the actions of students against austerity policies and budget cuts at Greek universities or the Gezi protests in Istanbul gained wider international notoriety, it was the western Balkan countries that provided for a model of student protest action that has been emulated throughout the region.
    Read more

Tr@nsit Online Authors

  • Bradley F. Abrams

    History, Stanford University
    Read more

  • Thomas Ahbe

    Thomas Ahbe studierte Philosophie, Ökonomie und Soziologie. Seit 1998 wirkt er freischaffend als Sozialwissenschaftler und Publizist. Seine Arbeitsschwerpunkte sind Diskurs- und Kulturgeschichte der deutschen Zweistaatlichkeit und der ostdeutschen Transformation sowie die Generationengeschichte der DDR und Ostdeutschlands.   Print

  • Karl Aiginger

    Karl Aiginger is Director of WIFO (Österreichisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung), Professor of Economics and Coordinator of the project A new growth path for Europe within the 7th European Framework Program.   Print

  • Huercan Asli Aksoy

    Ph.D. candidate in Political Science, University of Tübingen
    Read more

  • Sorin Antohi

    Sorin Antohi is Professor of History at Central European University, Budapest.   Print

  • Timothy Garton Ash

    History, Oxford
    Read more

  • Roumen Avramov

    Program director for economic research at the Center for Liberal Strategies, Sofia
    Read more

  • Adam Baczko

    PhD Candidate in Political Science, EHESS, Paris
    Read more

  • Rainer Bauböck

    Rainer Bauböck is professor of social and political theory at the European University Institute in Florence. In 2006 he was awarded the Latsis Prize of the European Science Foundation for his work on immigration and social cohesion in modern societies. Among his many publications are Immigration and Boundaries of Citizenship (1992), Transnational Citizenship: Membership and …
    Read more

  • Steven Beller

    Geschichte, Cambridge
    Read more

  • Naja Bentzen

    Freelance journalist, Wien
    Read more

  • Luiza Bialasiewicz

    Professor of European Governance, University of Amsterdam
    Read more

  • Muriel Blaive

    Advisor to the Director, in Charge of Research and Methodology, Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, Prague
    Read more

  • András Bozóki

    Professor of Political Science, Central European University, Budapest
    Read more

  • José Casanova

    Professor für Soziologie, New School for Social Research, New York
    Read more

  • Daniel Chirot

    Soziologie, Seattle
    Read more

  • Robert Cooper

    Robert Cooper ist britischer Diplomat und derzeit als Sonderberater des Europäischen Auswärtigen Dienstes (European External Action Service, EEAS) tätig. Er ist zudem Gründungsmitglied des European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).   Print

  • Peter Demetz

    Sterling Professor Emeritus of German and Comparative Literature, Yale University; Korrespondierendes Mitglied des IWM
    Read more

  • James Dodd

    Associate Professor of Philosophy, Special Advisor to the Dean on Faculty Affairs, New School for Social Research
    Read more

  • Martin Endreß

    Martin Endreß ist Professor für Soziologie an der Universität Trier.   Print

  • Mischa Gabowitsch

    Mischa Gabowitsch ( is a research fellow at the Einstein Forum in Potsdam. He is the author of Putin kaputt!? (Suhrkamp, 2013), a study of the 2011-13 Russian protests for fair elections, and maintains, which collects academic resources for the study of protest in Russia.   Print

  • Charles Gati

    Charles Gati is Senior Acting Director of Russian and Eurasian Studies and Foreign Policy Institute Senior Fellow at the School of Advanced International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University, Washington, D.C.     Print

  • Dessy Gavrilova

    Dessy Gavrilova is the founding Director of The Red House – Center for Culture and Debate in Sofia, Bulgaria.     Print

  • Keith Gessen

    Keith Gessen is a freelance writer living in Cambridge, MA.   Print

  • Gerhard Gnauck

    Warsaw correspondent for Die Welt
    Read more

  • Katya Gorchinskaya

    Managing Editor for Investigative Programming, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (REF/RL), Kyiv
    Read more

  • John Gray

    John Gray is Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics.   Print

  • Rainer Gries

    Rainer Gries lehrt und forscht als Universitätsprofessor am Historischen Institut der Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, am Institut für Publizistik- und Kommunikationswissenschaft der Universität Wien sowie an der Sigmund Freud PrivatUniversität Wien. Zu seinen Forschungsschwerpuntken zählen u.a. die Gesellschaftsgeschichte Deutschlands und Österreichs im 20. Jahrhundert und die Geschichte des Konsums in Europa.   Print

  • Eva Hahn

    Read more

  • Gábor Halmai

    Professor of Law, Department of European Studies; Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
    Read more

  • Elemer Hankiss

    Professor für Politikwissenschaft, Eötvös Lorand Universität, Budapest; Korrespondierendes Mitglied des IWM
    Read more

  • Miklós Haraszti

    Miklós Haraszti is a writer, journalist, human rights advocate and university professor. He served the maximum of two terms as the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media from 2004 to 2010. Currently he is Adjunct Professor at the School of International and Public Affairs of Columbia Law School, New York. Haraszti studied philosophy and …
    Read more

  • Sabine Hark

    Sabine Hark forscht an der Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftlichen Fakultät der Universität Potsdam, Professur für Frauenforschung.   Print

  • Annemieke Hendriks

    Freelance journalist, Berlin
    Read more

  • Charles Hirschman

    Charles Hirschman is Boeing International Professor at the Department of Sociology and the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, Washington University.     Print

  • Jennifer L. Hochschild

    Jennifer L. Hochschild is Professor of Government at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and Professor of African and African-American Studies at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University.   Print

  • Yaroslav Hrytsak

    History, Central European University Budapest
    Read more

  • Richard Hyman

    Richard Hyman ist Professor für Politikwissenschaft an der London School of Economics.   Print

  • Vladislav Inozemtsev

    Professor of Economics at Higher School of Economics; Director, Centre for Post-Industrial Studies, Moscow
    Read more

  • Bruce P. Jackson

    Bruce P. Jackson is the founder and President of the Project on Transitional Democracies. The Project is a multi-year endeavour aimed at accelerating the pace of reform in post-1989 democracies and advancing the date for the integration of these democracies into the institutions of the Euro-Atlantic. Jackson has written extensively about the engagement of Russia …
    Read more

  • Tom Junes

    Visiting Researcher, Warsaw University, and Visiting Lecturer in Polish history, KULeuven, Belgium
    Read more

  • Alex J. Kay

    Alex J. Kay holds a PhD in History from the Humboldt University Berlin.   Print

  • Anatoly M. Khazanov

    Anatoly M. Khazanov ist Professor für Anthropologie an der University of Wisconsin, Madison.   Print

  • Cornelia Klinger

    Professor of Philosophy, University of Tübingen
    Read more

  • Gudrun-Axeli Knapp

    Professor of Social Sciences and Social Psychology, University of Hannover
    Read more

  • Jacek Kochanowicz

    Jacek Kochanowicz is Professor for Economic History at Warsaw University.       Print

  • Michal Kopecek

    International Relations, Charles University Prague
    Read more

  • János Kornai

    János Kornai is Prof. em. for Economics  at Harvard University and Permanent Fellow at the Collegium Budapest – Institute for Advanced Study. He is a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Academia Europeae, and Foreign Member of the American, British, Bulgarian, Finnish, Russian and Swedish Academies. He has served as President of …
    Read more

  • Bilyana Kourtasheva

    Post-Doc in Theory and History of Literature, New Bulgarian University, Sofia
    Read more

  • János Mátyás Kovács

    IWM Permanent Fellow
    Senior member of RECET, Institute of East European History, Vienna University; Professor of Economic History, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
    Read more

  • Ivan Krastev

    IWM Permanent Fellow
    Chair of the Board, Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia
    Read more

  • Yustyna Kravchuk

    PhD candidate in Film and Media Studies, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kyiv
    Read more

  • Jacek Kucharczyk

    Jacek Kucharczyk ist Head of Programs am Institute of Public Affairs in Warschau.   Print

  • Aleksander Kwasniewski

    Aleksander Kwasniewski war Präsident Polens. Seine Amtszeit verlief von 1995 bis 2005 über zwei Legislaturperioden.   Print

  • Mladen Lazic

    Professor of Sociology, University of Belgrade
    Read more

  • Claus Leggewie

    Professor für Politikwissenschaft, Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen
    Read more

  • Mark Leonard

    Co-founder and Director, European Council on Foreign Relations
    Read more

  • André Liebich

    Honorary Professor of International History and Politics, Graduate Institute, Geneva
    Read more

  • Burkhard Liebsch

    Burkhard Liebsch ist Professor für Philosophie an der Ruhr-Universität Bochum.   Print

  • Michal Luczewski

    Ph.D. candidate in Sociology, Warsaw University
    Read more

  • Charles S. Maier

    Charles S. Maier ist Direktor des Center for European Studies, Harvard University.   Print

  • Andrey Makarychev

    Andrey Makarychev ist Professor und Research Fellow am Institut Osteuropäische Studien an der Freien Universität Berlin.   Print

  • Michał Maciej Matlak

    Ph.D. candidate, Department of Political and Social Sciences, European University Institute, Florence
    Read more

  • Erik Meyer

    Erik Meyer ist seit 2000 wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Sonderforschungsbereich ‘Erinnerungskulturen’ an der Justus-Liebig Universität Gießen.   Print

  • Krzysztof Michalski

    IWM Founding Rector
    Read more

  • Hans J. Misselwitz

    Hans-Jürgen Misselwitz ist ein deutscher SPD-Politiker und Gründungsmitglied des Instituts Solidarische Moderne.   Print

  • Alessandro Monsutti

    Alessandro Monsutti is an associate professor of anthropology and development sociology at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, as well as research associate at the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford. He worked as a consultant for several nongovernmental and international organizations, icnluding UNHCR. His book War and Migration: Social Networks …
    Read more

  • Jan-Werner Müller

    Professor of Politics, Princeton University

    Visiting Fellow
    (September 2016 – August 2017)
    Read more

  • Rainer Münz

    Professor für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; Korrespondierendes Mitglied des IWM
    Read more

  • Sighard Neckel

    Professor of Sociology, Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main
    Read more

  • Katherine Newman

    Katherine S. Newman is the James B. Knapp Dean of The Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. She is a widely published expert on poverty and the working poor who led major interdisciplinary initiatives at Princeton and Harvard universities.     Print

  • Pierre Nora

    Pierre Nora lehrt Geschichte an der École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris.   Print

  • Tereza Novotna

    Political Science, Boston University
    Read more

  • Ewald Nowotny

    Ewald Nowotny is Governor of the Austrian National Bank.   Print

  • Thomas Nowotny

    Thomas Nowotny teaches Political Science at the University of Vienna. He has been Austrian diplomat, private secretary to Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, senior political counselor to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and consultant to the OECD.   Print

  • Vlad Odobescu

    Freelance journalist, Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism, Bucharest
    Read more

  • Andrzej Paczkowski

    Professor für Geschichte, Institut für Politische Studien, Polnische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Warschau
    Read more

  • Emilia Palonen

    Politics, University of Essex
    Read more

  • Irina Papkova

    Irina Papkova is a Research Fellow of Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. She spent five years teaching at the Department of International Relations and European Studies at Central European University, Budapest.   Print

  • Agnieszka Pasieka

    Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the Martin Luther University, Halle/Saale
    Read more

  • Gleb Pavlovsky

    President, Center of Effective Policies; Member, Public Chamber of the Russian Federation; Editor-in-Chief, The Russian Journal, Moscow
    Read more

  • György Péteri

    Professor of Contemporary European History, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim
    Read more

  • Tanja Petrovic

    Tanja Petrovic works at the Scientific Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ljubljana.   Print

  • David Petruccelli

    PhD candidate in History, Yale University
    Read more

  • Alexander von Plato

    Alexander von Plato ist ein deutscher Philosoph und Historiker. Er gründete das Instituts für Geschichte und Biographie an der Fernuniversität Hagen, das er bis 2007 leitete. Von 1996 bis 2000 war er Sekretär der International Oral History Association, von 2006 bis 2008 deren Vizepräsident. Er ist Mitherausgeber und Redakteur von BIOS – Zeitschrift für Biographieforschung, Oral …
    Read more

  • Andrei Pleșu

    Andrei Pleșu ist Rektor des New Europe College, Bukarest. 1989- 1991 war er rumänischer Kulturminister und 1997- 1999 rumänischer Außenminister.   Print

  • Martin Pollack

    Martin Pollack, geb. 1944 in OÖ, studierte Slawistik und osteuropäische Geschichte. Er war von 1987 bis 1998 Redakteur des “Spiegel” in Warschau und Wien und lebt heute als Schriftsteller und literarischer Übersetzer in Wien und Bocksdorf im Südburgenland. 2011 erhielt er den Leipziger Buchpreis zur Europäischen Verständigung und 2012 den Stanislaw-Vincenz-Preis. Zuletzt erschien von ihm …
    Read more

  • Krzysztof Pomian

    Krzysztof Pomian is Professor of History at the Nicolaus Copernicus University (Toruń) and Academic Director of the Museum of Europe in Brussels.   Print

  • Romano Prodi

    Romano Prodi war von September 1999 bis November 2004 Präsident der Europäischen Kommission.   Print

  • Lipin Ram

    PhD candidate and teaching assistant in Anthropology and Sociology of Development, Graduate Institute, Geneva
    Read more

  • Mykola Riabchuk

    Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Political and Nationalities’ Studies, Academy of Sciences, Kyiv
    Read more

  • Edelbert Richter

    Edelbert Richter ist deutscher Theologe, Politiker und war Mitglied des Deutschen Bundestages.   Print

  • Paul Ricoeur

    Paul Ricoeur ist Philosoph und war Professor Emeritus an der University of Chicago und an der Sorbonne. Er war Mitglied der Académie Francaise und Mitglied des Wissenschaftlichen Beirats des IWM. Er starb 2005.   Print

  • Michel Rocard

    Michel Rocard, former First Secretary of the French Socialist Party and a member of the European Parliament for 15 years, was Prime Minister of France from 1988 to 1991.   Print

  • Akos Rona-Tas

    Akos Rona-Tas is professor at the Sociology Department of the University of California, San Diego and a research associate at Met@risk, INRA, Paris. He is the author of the books Plastic Money: Constructing Markets for Credit Cards in Eight Postcommunist Countries (with Alya Guseva, 2014) and Surprise of the Small Transformation: Demise of Communism and …
    Read more

  • Lew Rubinstein

    Lew Rubinstein lebt als Poet und Essayist in Moskau. Nach dem Studium der Philologie war er als Bibliothekar tätig. Seit Ende der 1960er-Jahre verfasst er poetische Arbeiten, seit 1974 serielle Textzyklen als so genannte Kartotheken. Zusammen mit Andrej Monastyrskij, Dimitrij A. Prigov und Vladimir Sorokin gilt er als wichtigster Vertreter des Moskauer Konzeptualismus. Print

  • Jacques Rupnik

    Geschichte und Politikwissenschaft, Paris
    Read more

  • Claudia Šabic

    Claudia Šabi? ist Politikwissenschaftlerin und Ethnologin. Seit 1998 ist sie Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin an der Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main. Print

  • Ranabir Samaddar

    Distinguished Chair in Migration and Forced Migration Studies, Calcutta Research Group
    Read more

  • Paul Sanders

    Paul Sanders is a historian and management scholar. He is a full-time professor at Reims Management School in Reims, France. He has published across the disciplines of history, international relations and leadership.   Print

  • Karl Schlögel

    Karl Schlögel war Professor für Osteuropäische Geschichte zuerst an der Universität Konstanz, dann an der Europa-Universität Viadrina in Frankfurt/Oder. Nach seiner Emeritierung arbeitet er an einer Archäologie des Kommunismus und einer Geschichte des Wolgaraumes. Zurzeit ist er City of Vienna/IFK Fellow am IFK in Wien.     Print

  • Thomas Schmid

    Thomas Schmid is the publisher of the WELT Group, Berlin. He worked for various newspapers, among them as editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. From 2006 to 2010 he was Editor-in-Chief of Die Welt.   Print

  • Margit Schratzenstaller

    Margit Schratzenstaller is senior researcher at the Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO) and is currently coordinating (together with Karl Aiginger and Stefan Ederer) ‘WWW for Europe’, a 4-year research project within the 7th Framework Program funded by the European Commission.   Print

  • Dieter Segert

    Dieter Segert ist Professor für Transformationsprozesse in Mittel-, Südost- und Osteuropa am Institut für Politikwissenschaft der Universität Wien. Seit September 2007 ist er Mitglied des Vorstandes des IDM Wien, seit Juni 2008 Mitglied der Leibniz-Sozietät der Wissenschaften zu Berlin.   Print

  • Victoriya Sereda

    Sociologie, Ivan-Franko-Universität, Lviv
    Read more

  • Michel Serres

    Michel Serres ist Philosoph und Mitglied der Académie Française.   Print

  • Anton Shekhovtsov

    PhD in Political Science
    Read more

  • Marci Shore

    Associate Professor of History, Yale University

    Visiting Fellow
    (July 2020 – June 2021)
    Read more

  • Sławomir Sierakowski

    Director, Institute for Advanced Study, Warsaw; Founder, "Krytyka Polityczna" movement
    Read more

  • Sara Silverstein

    Ph.D. Candidate in Modern European and International History, Yale University
    Read more

  • Ondřej Slačálek

    Assistant Professor of Political Science, Charles University, Prague
    Read more

  • Aleksander Smolar

    Political Science, Paris
    Read more

  • Timothy Snyder

    IWM Permanent Fellow
    Richard C. Levin Professor of History, Yale University
    Read more

  • George Soros

    George Soros is a pioneer of the hedge-fund industry, investor and philanthropist, he is the author of many books, including Financial Turmoil in Europe and the United States: Essays (2012), The Soros Lectures: At the Central European University (2010), The Crash of 2008 and What it Means: The New Paradigm for Finance Markets (2009).   …
    Read more

  • Robert Spaemann

    Robert Spaemann ist Professor em. für Philosophie an der Universität München.   Print

  • Pawel Spiewak

    Associate Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology and Philosophy, Warsaw University
    Read more

  • Wilfried Stadler

    Wilfried Stadler ist Unternehmensberater, Wirtschaftspublizist und Honorarprofessor an der Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien. Bis 2009 war er Vorstandsvorsitzender einer österreichischen Spezialbank für Unternehmensfinanzierung.   Print

  • Rudolf Stamm

    Rudolf Stamm war von 1975 bis 1988 Korrespondent der Neuen Zürcher Zeitung für Osteuropa und Österreich, anschließend bis 1999 für Italien, dann bis zu seiner Pensionierung 2002 für die USA mit Sitz in Washington D.C. Er starb 2010 in der Schweiz. 1985 erscheinen seine NZZ-Reportagen aus Osteuropa in dem Band Alltag und Tradition in Osteuropa. …
    Read more

  • Paul Starr

    Paul Starr ist Professor für Soziologie an der Princeton University und Mitherausgeber von The American Prospect. Er ist Pulitzer-Preisträger.   Print

  • Martina Steer

    ÖAW APART Fellow (History)
    Read more

  • Kristina Stoeckl

    Research Director
    APART Fellow, Austrian Academy of Sciences; Department of Political Sciences, University of Vienna
    Read more

  • Roman Szporluk

    Roman Szporluk is Professor em. of Ukrainian History at Harvard and Professor em. of History at the University of Michigan. He is a foreign member of the National Academy of Sciences in Kiev, Ukraine. His research focuses on modern Ukrainian, Russian, and Polish history, and on Marxism and nationalism in Eastern Europe.   Print

  • Charles Taylor

    IWM Permanent Fellow
    Professor em. of Philosophy, McGill University, Montréal
    Read more

  • Maria Teteriuk

    PhD candidate in Mass Communications and senior lecturer in Media Studies, National University of 'Kyiv-Mohyla Academy', Ukraine
    Read more

  • Philipp Ther

    Junior Professor of Polish and Ukrainian Studies, Europa-Universität Frankfurt / Oder
    Read more

  • Maria Todorova

    Professor of History, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
    Read more

  • Balázs Trencsényi

    Balázs Trencsényi, Ph.D., is Associate Professor at the Department of History, CEU. His research focuses on the comparative history of political thought in East Central Europe and the history of historiography. He is co-director of Pasts, Inc., Center for Historical Studies at CEU and Associate Editor of the periodical East Central Europe (Brill). He was …
    Read more

  • Stefan Troebst

    Read more

  • Marius Turda

    Lecturer in the Education Abroad Program, Eötvös Lorand University, Faculty of Humanities, Budapest
    Read more

  • Andreas Umland

    Andreas Umland ist Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Institut für Euro-Atlantische Kooperation Kiew sowie Herausgeber der Buchreihe Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society, ibidem-Verlag Stuttgart. Print

  • Victoria Vasilenko

    Assistant Professor of Contemporary History and International Relations, Belgorod National Research University
    Read more

  • David G. Victor

    David G. Victor is a Professor at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at the University of California, San Diego, where he directs the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation.   Print

  • Harald Welzer

    Harald Welzer ist Forschungsprofessor für Sozialpsychologie an der Universität Witten/Herdecke und Direktor des Center for Interdisciplinary Memory Research am Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts Essen.   Print

  • Karolina Wigura

    Adjunct of the History of Ideas, University of Warsaw; Co-Editor of Kultura Liberalna
    Read more

  • Volodymyr Yermolenko

    Volodymyr Yermolenko is a Ukrainian philosopher and essayist. He has a degree in Political Science from the EHESS, Paris, and teaches at Kyiv Mohyla Academy in Kyiv. He is the author of the book Narrator and Philosopher: Walter Benjamin and his time (2011, in Ukrainian). Print

  • Oksana Zabuzhko

    Free-lance writer, Kiev
    Read more

  • Tatiana Zhurzhenko

    IWM Research Director, Russia in Global Dialogue and Ukraine in European Dialogue
    Read more