`A European Federation' and a `core Europe', unity and increased differentiation are two paramount themes of Fischer speech. Both of them are dressed-up in the rational-normative mantle of the European integration debate. We will not dwell on the false empirical point of departure of Fischer's speech here, or on the important contradictions within his vision. We are trying, here, to look at Fischer's speech in the light of its-apparently puzzling-reception in Eastern Europe. Is there a different Eastern-European vision of European integration, or simply a misunderstanding? Equally, if Eastern ideas about European integration are different, why is this so and when do we have to take them into account?
Let us begin with a novel. One of Eastern Europe's most celebrated novels-The Doll, by Boleslaw Prus-describes a situation that is similar to the one in which Eastern Europeans now seem to find themselves with regard to the `finality' of European integration that is described by Fischer and others.
The novel's main character, Wokulski, a lower class lad, has a crush on an aristocratic maiden. He structures his entire life with a view to conquering the maiden, becomes rich and is on the verge of marrying her-he dreams of living with her in a villa that he will build and name Isabellon-when a single trip to Krakow, just prior to the planned marriage, reveals to him the painful truth that, for him, the maiden's charm has vanished away. One might say that this is a simple illustration of love's fate: it is always an illusion that eventually fades away. One might, of course, also argue that the maiden herself changed during the period of distant adoration. A more cynical, yet subtle view, however, would assert that she must have changed since she would not otherwise have accepted a proposal of marriage from a man of Wokulski's condition. The analogy is now simple and transparent. Yet, this is only the mournful side of the story of the eastward enlargement that might be distilled from Fischer's speech.
The aspect of Fischer's vision of political finality that causes most concern in Eastern Europe is the emphasis placed upon a centre of gravity inside the Union, which is seen as being absolutely necessary in order to maintain the process of European integration after enlargement towards the East. The arguments put forward by Eastern Europeans to account for their reluctance about the creation of a federation with a hard core, primarily stem from historical experience, and are, at the end of the day, only to be expected of states that are not yet full participants within the process of European integration. Clearly, since the vision of unity and an alteration in the Monnet method have become even less realistic today,6 we now require a more comprehensive debate on the federal traditions of new members.
The first argument relates to federalist ideas and derives from the lack of a strong federal tradition within this part of the continent. Eastern Europe has nevertheless experienced plenty of federalist projects, but here again, memories are mixed. In the last two centuries alone, the mixed fate of federalism within the East is adequately illustrated by reference to the story of the Habsburg Monarchy following the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, or to the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. These two different forms of federalism and types of political regime were the cause of significant international instability.
As Schlesinger has pointed out,7 proposals for federal projects such as Neumann's Mitteleuropa or Hodza's Federation in Central Europe were regarded with great suspicion by Eastern Europeans. We can, therefore, agree with the conclusion that `the people of East Central Europe have not been adequately conditioned by their history to embrace readily the habits and attitudes of international federalism'8 A close analysis of Eastern Europe's federal experiences reveals the fact that an important source of instability was the unequal status of peoples within the federation. This is the story of the Slavs, Magyars and Romanians during the Hapsburg Empire, of the non-Serb population in Yugoslavia and, at the end of the day, of the Slovaks in Czechoslovakia.
The second argument invoked by Eastern Europeans emphasises the importance of preserving sovereignty. We can make mention of the newly acquired sovereignty of Eastern Europe. Certainly, the question of foreign occupation could be discussed at length here, either in Kundera's terms with regard to Communism in Central Europe, or in the geopolitical terms of the Brejnev doctrine. Nonetheless, sovereignty is by no means a simple notion to grasp, either in theory or in practice. It is certainly a particular challenge to discuss its `permeability' or `desegregation' within the European Union.
Although Eastern Europeans have attempted to present their viewpoints as being close to those taken by other Governments, such as the UK Government, which was also critical about Fischer's proposal, there still are significant differences between the respective stands. Whilst Great Britain appears reluctant about European integration in general, Eastern European countries are enthusiastic about the current EU, and are sceptical about the Europe envisaged by Fischer.
It is worth noting that among the motivations driving Eastern European countries towards the process of European integration is the equal status that smaller or less developed states seem to enjoy inside the European Union. Pro-integration feelings within Eastern Europe are also bolstered by the fact that other countries that have experienced similarly unfavourable economic conditions were to make great progress as Member States. It has been said of Eastern Europeans that theirs is a pragmatic approach towards the West, and that material advantages explain the attractiveness of the European Union. Undoubtedly, the only guarantee of effective integration between the two regions will be a levelling up of their economic performance. Thus, we can suggest that the Eastern-European vision is more closely related to the supranational approach to integration, a dimension that is lacking within the unitarian-differentiated model proposed by Fischer.
At the same time, however, although Eastern Europeans might wish for Europe to remain the same after the completion of the current enlargement round, they are aware that this is not going to be the case. This fact contributes to the stiff competition and lack of solidarity between Eastern European countries, and between them and other partner countries in the EU, which enjoy assistance from it in various forms.
On the other hand, it equally true that, as enlargement is delayed and accession to the EU grows ever more complicated, enthusiasm for accession to the EU within Eastern European countries is diminishing. Even if it is true that European identity is a constant value for Eastern Europeans, certain groups have begun to discover that integration might work against their economic interests; its contribution to the overall economic growth within individual countries has becomes less than certain. If we are to explain the process of state preference formation in terms of domestic institutions, we might say that, in Eastern Europe, we are witnesses to an ongoing process of the clarification of market incentives that has motivated domestic actors to advocate certain policies (commercial liberalism), that have begun to counterbalance9 domestic social identities and values (ideational liberalism).
Although attitudes towards the EU are shaped by historical experiences throughout Europe, Eastern European discourse on integration is particularly marked by historical references. This will come as no surprise. A historical debate on the recent past, i.e., on Communism, is not a current priority. The situation differs starkly from that prevailing after World War Two. The general impression is that the qualification of Communism as totalitarism is a debate that is not going to, and will never, take place. World War Two was followed by a discourse that held that a totalitarian regime must bear certain responsibilities. These things appear very unclear today: on the one hand, there is dispute about the totalitarian nature of Communism;10 on the other, there is much ambiguity about the issue of responsibilities.
We can now see more clearly why Eastern European identity formation within the process of European integration can be defined by contrast to identity formation in Germany. Certainly, both demonstrate a deep attachment to Europe. In Germany's case, however, this is concomitant with the fading away of national identity, while in Eastern European attachment goes hand in hand with the assertion of identity. One should also note that all Eastern European countries have a tendency to minimise their divergence from Western Europe, and to assert and emphasise their own performance.
If we were to sketch the identity of Eastern Europe, we would primarily see it as combining attachment to Europe with self-assertion, self-confidence and even a certain kind of nationalism that we might view as being useful.11 It is highly likely that this identity is conditioned by Eastern Europe's ongoing absence from the process of European construction, and by the requirement that it (almost) unconditionally accepts the existing European legal framework.
6 See, R.Dehousse in this Volume.
7 R.Schlesinger (1945:487-502).
8 V.Mastny (2000).
9 A.Moravcsik (1997).
10 See, for example, A.Besancon (1998).
11 See, for example, S.Auer (2000).