Democratic Change in Central and Eastern Europe 1989-90

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The analysis of the European Parliament’s archival documents (reports, resolutions and debates) undoubtedly demonstrates that the EP has been in the front-row when it comes to debating the events leading to democratic change in Central and Eastern European countries. Clearly voicing its concerns about developments in Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia even before its first direct elections in 1979, the EP from the very beginning has taken a clear stance in condemning human rights violations while supporting movements towards democratisation in Central and Eastern Europe.
The amount of discussions in the Parliament increased with the beginning of glasnost and perestroika in the 1980s and intensified in the run-up to the fall of the Berlin Wall. MEPs discussed not only the deteriorating political situation in Poland and Czechoslovakia but also the protection of human rights in Romania and Eastern Germany. As the events of 1989 unfolded debates became more and more controversial. The question of German unification and of national selfdetermination in both the GDR and the Baltic States clearly divided MEPs. While there seemed to be a general agreement concerning the active role the EU should play in providing economic aid to Central and Eastern Europe, marked security concerns dominated discussions on Germany’s and the Baltic countries’ future.
The beginning of the 1990s was characterised by a general shift in focus. With the signing of the Europe Agreements and with enlargement becoming a real possibility, the importance of political, cultural and scientific cooperation suddenly started to take centre stage. Initial debates on accession were nevertheless characterised by stark differences of opinion concerning the timeframe and the depth of future collaboration with Central and Eastern Europe.
Similarly heated discussions can be observed at the start of the Yugoslav Wars with MEPs being divided over the question of a possible military intervention on Yugoslav territory and the recognition of Slovenia and Croatia.
The Balkan Wars and their aftermath clearly provided the backdrop to accession negotiations with Central and Eastern European countries, brushing aside most disagreements between MEPs on the one hand and the Commission and the EP on the other. While the EP closely monitored progress towards democratisation, it gave unwavering support to almost all candidate countries. It thus paved the way for the accession of ten Central and Eastern European countries in 2004 followed by three more in 2007 and 2013 respectively.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBrussels
PublisherEuropean Parliament
Commissioning bodyHistorical Archives Unit of the Directorate General for Parliamentary Research Services
ISBN (Print)978-92-823-6447-5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

Publication series

SeriesEuropean Parliament History Series

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