Panel at the Prague European Summit 2023 

Panel at the Prague European Summit 2023 

The 9th Prague European Summit, organised by EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy and the Institute of International Relations on November 15th-16th, 2023, focused on several aspects of European resilience. It brought together policymakers, academics, and experts to discuss the economic, geopolitical, and internal resilience of the EU. Topics included internal decision-making processes, future enlargement, the role of smaller EU states, and perceptions of the EU in Central Europe.

One of the discussions centred around the role of the smaller and medium-sized EU member states and their views on the EU was based on the research and findings of the RevivEU project, focusing on the citizens’ attitudes and policy and discourse analyses in the V4 countries. The discussion titled Central European View on the Agenda before the European Election, moderated by Martin Ehl from Hospodářské noviny, featured panellists Anna Orosz, a Hungarian opposition Parliament member, and Michal Vašečka, a Slovakian sociologist and one of the content leads for the RevivEU project.

The conversation delved into the current state of Central Europe, the motivations of countries and citizens, differences in priorities within the V4 countries, and the state of liberal democracy. The contrast between the 4 countries was visible, with the alliance sometimes being split into a 2+2, or even 3+1 format, depending on the topic at question, which in itself answered the question of whether the V4 is a uniform unit and can it be used to describe the 4 Central European countries at once. This is particularly visible in Hungary, and Slovakia, which is facing post-election challenges. This contrasts with Poland’s optimism and the Czech Republic finding itself closest to the definition of liberal democracy. However, while the V4 countries have different views on issues like the rule of law, they share a sense of disappointment stemming from unmet expectations of prosperity and welfare after joining the EU. Despite the general negative mood of the discussion influenced by recent events in Slovakia and Hungary, the discussion was conducted with sarcasm and humour, engaging the audience positively.

The audience actively participated with questions during and after the panel, focusing on Euroscepticism`s differences among the V4 countries, improving democracy in Hungary, tackling unfair treatment of opposition parties during elections, addressing emotional voting tendencies, and identifying key issues for democratic parties in upcoming European Parliament elections in Slovakia and Hungary.

Overall, the panel and subsequent discussions engaged over 250 participants from 17 countries, generating insightful dialogue and reflections on the future of Europe from a Central European perspective.