5 July 2021
By 2023, countries of the region prioritise their focus on the economic potential and individual recovery instead of better coordinated EU efforts.
Additionally, a failure of the Conference on the Future of Europe that does not deliver any tangible results diminishes more ambitious reforms of the block for years. The EU’s goals are also stranded by domestic electoral battles that continue at least until 2024.
Thus, regional cooperation becomes tainted by nationalist political narratives hampering the potential of regional initiatives such as the 3SI or the V4. Leaders advocate for autonomous regional cooperation following their echo chambers and group think in absence of strong media and civil society participation in the debate. A drastic increase of strategic lawsuits against public participation, the media and CSOs leads to record low public participation in governance enabling massive centralisation. Consequently, the region becomes a basecamp of Eurosceptics rather than a pragmatic network of countries utilising the full potential of influence within the EU.
While such initiatives are left to radical political forces, they increase exposure to Chinese and Russian influence which secretly or openly seek to inflate an idea of regional autonomy and manipulate separatist tendencies.
Exposed to corruption and further democratic backsliding, the illiberal practices become contagious and eventually play against democratic security in an interconnected space of Central Europe.
Western partners increase their engagement in the region to contain the situation by diplomatic micromanaging.