While the European Union has gradually expanded to become arguably the most significant format of regional cooperation, especially in terms of economic, cultural and political power, under closer examination it becomes clear that the Union itself is home to a number of smaller scale formats for cooperation. These have served a variety of purposes, from pursuing deeper integration for economic and social benefits, through cultivating a common regional identity, to giving a louder voice to smaller countries on the international arena and, increasingly, within a growing European Union. Often such partnerships have been created with one of those goals in mind and have later developed to include others, establishing additional institutions and reforming existing ones along the way.
This paper will have two goals: firstly, it will attempt to provide a condensed overview and assessment of the historic foundations, past and present institutional setups, achievements and failures, and priorities of the Benelux, Nordic and Baltic formats for regional cooperation. These have been selected based on their perceived success and the relevance they hold as examples for the Visegrad Group. The second goal of the paper will be to examine the Group in greater detail and attempt to generate lessons from the other three formats which could be successfully applied to it, in order to convert its significant potential into tangible benefits for its members and the Group as a whole.
Policy Paper – Bisser Angelov, June 2020
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