Central Europe needs a new vision of its future in Europe. The stakes have never been higher. The European Union, emerging from a decade of crisis, is headed for change and renewal. Yet Central Europe is stifled by parochialism and stagnation. Much of the continent wishes to seize the moment and move forward with the European project. Yet our region is turning inwards, uncertain of its place and role in Europe.
Some of our governments are trampling on democratic values, and are bent on undermining European solidarity and unity. Others are small-minded and transactional in their approach to Europe. Regional cooperation is fragmented, and unable to push for a more positive contribution to the future of the EU. The Visegrad Group, in particular, needs reconstruction and refocus.
Our citizens deserve better. Our political movements are therefore coming together to fight for a different Central Europe: one which is true to its European identity and values, and which aspires to lead – rather than awkwardly obstruct – the renewal of the European project. Ours is a vision of Central Europe embedded in the EU’s innermost core, with all our countries part of the Eurozone.
We must overcome the divisive notion that Central Europe’s interests and needs are opposed to, or fundamentally different from, Western Europe. This may have been true 25 years ago, but not anymore. The defining challenges of today are European rather than national or regional. Security threats, whether arising from Russia’s expansionist designs or from terrorism, can only be contained together. Long-term challenges of climate change, migration flows or technological disruption, can be only managed together. Our economies will thrive only if our prosperity is shared.
We therefore believe that any notion of progress for Central Europe must be defined and pursued in a European context. Our citizens’ aspirations – for economic opportunity, for social justice, for deeper security, and genuine democratic accountability – are best realized within a more resilient, more cohesive and democratic EU. Today, in the face of steady regress in our regional politics, this future is at risk.
Therefore, our movements are launching a new regional initiative, NEW CENTRAL EUROPE, as a platform for dialogue and joint political action among our respective movements and citizens. Through NEW CENTRAL EUROPE, our movements will regularly consult, articulate common positions vis-a-vis our governments and partners in Europe, and work towards a joint and comprehensive vision of Central Europe in the EU.
More importantly, NEW CENTRAL EUROPE will serve as a vehicle for enacting Europe in practice. It will allow us to interlink our campaigns and other activities, and nurture a sense of community among individuals and groups striving for change in our societies. Open to other like-minded political or civic organisations from the region, NEW CENTRAL EUROPE will embody and empower the real Central Europe: modern, European, engaged. NEW CENTRAL EUROPE is ready for work.
András Fekete-Győr, Momentum
Matthias Strolz, NEOS
Ryszard Petru, Nowoczesna
Ivan Štefunko, Progresívne Slovensko