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integration 03/23


Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine marks a geopolitical turning point. The contributions in issue 3/23 of „integration“ discuss the effects of the war on the European Union in several policy areas.

The Russian war of aggression in Ukraine confronts the European Union (EU) with a military war against a close political partner in direct neighbourhood. Issue 3/23 of „integration“ is about the impact of the war on the EU. This special issue is based on selected lectures of the annual colloquium held in 2022 organised by „Arbeitskreis Europäische Integration“ in cooperation with „Schader-Stiftung“.

The editorial, which is available for free download, highlights questions and challenges for the EU, that has been raised due to the new geopolitical reality since the war. The authors of the scientific papers take up various aspects. The institutional need for reform of the EU, especially regarding consolidation and enlargement, and exemplary models of reform, to overcome weaknesses of the current enlargement process, are taken into account. Furthermore, elements of a European strategy in foreign affairs using the European China policy as an example are analysed as well as political hostage-taking and – describing the example of Hungary – how it undermines the capacity to act and the coherence of the EU in foreign policy. Articles in the forum category are about the “strength” of the EU after the geopolitical turning point and the potential conflict between energy security and climate protection. The collective literature review discusses two recently published books on the history of European Integration written by Kiran Klaus Patel and Ludger Kühnhardt respectively.

Facing a new geopolitical reality: the impact of the military aggression against Ukraine on the European Union

Michèle Knodt/Claudia Wiesner

The editorial is available for download below.

Able to act, flexible and executive-dominated: how the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine is changing the European Union

Nicolai von Ondarza

The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine poses an enormous challenge also for the crisis-tested European Union (EU). The analysis of the impact on its institutional structures shows that so far there has been no radical transformation of the EU, but that its institutions have expanded on flexible mechanisms developed in previous crises. Intergovernmental-executive dominance continued, with the European Council and the European Commission at the centre of decision-making, while the European Parliament remained largely at the margins. In the long term, the promise of EU membership for Ukraine and the revival of accession processes with the countries of the Western Balkan open up the prospect of a broader transformation; in the short term, immediate constitutional debates were avoided even after the Conference on the Future of Europe. The structures of the EU have proven flexible in crisis management, yet long-term reforms are necessary to ensure the democratic legitimacy and capacity to act of a potentially enlarged EU.

Enlargement perspectives – one promise, multiple scenarios

Andrea Garwich/Doris Wydra

The European Council granted the status of accession candidates of the European Union (EU) to Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova on 23 June 2022, Georgia could soon follow. The urgent calls of the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for a ‘fast-track’ accession urge for an in-depth examination of the challenges of the accession process itself – in particular as accession procedures in the Western Balkans have stalled as increasingly authoritarian-competitive regimes hold firm to power, but also attitudes towards enlargement within the EU are quite diverse. This contribution presents the reform models under debate (classified as anchor, assistance, and staged models) and attempts to grasp the extent to which they can compensate for the weaknesses of the enlargement process so far.

Defining a strategy for the European Union's foreign and China policy: conceptual claims and systemic limits

Franco Algieri

The foreign policy of the European Union (EU) is characterized by a specific systemic complexity and a high degree of institutionalization. This is reflected in the managing of cooperation and diplomacy with other actors in international relations. However, which underlying strategy is guiding the EU and how is it implemented? This article starts with some theory led considerations concerning strategic behaviour and strategic culture, followed by an analysis of how an EU strategy is conceptualized. Taking the case of the China policy, specific strategic features will then be identified. In consideration of conceptual aspirations and systemic limitations, the concluding part will evaluate what could be called an EU strategy including a brief outlook on the future of the European China policy.

Hungary, the EU’s rule of law conditionality mechanism and Russia’s war against Ukraine: political hostage-taking of foreign policy decisions

Patrick Müller/Peter Slominski

The European Union’s (EU) as well as NATO’s internal cohesion and their capacity to act is crucial to meet the security challenges due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The article discusses Hungary’s threats to veto vital EU sanctions against Russia as well as NATO enlargement. In particular, we focus on how Hungary has resorted to hostage-taking strategies in the field of the EU’s Foreign and Security Policy as well as NATO to gain EU concessions in unrelated policy areas like the Article 7 procedure or the COVID recovery funds. In doing so, Hungary aims to articulate its veto threat in a credible way, but at the same time it is trying to minimise the associated loss of reputation. To date, Hungary has succeeded in obtaining selective concessions from the other EU member states without derailing the sanctions policies against Russia or the NATO enlargement process.

The strength of the European Union after the "Zeitenwende”

Mathias Jopp

This article analyses the strength and resilience of the European Union (EU) after the “Zeitenwende”. The completely new situation of threat emanating from Russia did not lead to the EU falling apart, as might have been expected. To the contrary, it resulted in a community reflex of member states moving closer together and supporting Ukraine actively in its fight for survival, despite a certain leadership weakness of the Franco-German couple. In addition, the EU is reacting in a way with extensive military aid and joint procurement of ammunition that was unthinkable two or three years ago. However, the EU and its member states are lacking a strategy on how to contribute to terminating the war. Such a strategy would be urgently needed in order not to become unravelled between a bellicose Russia and a potentially less Atlantic-minded America after the US presidential election at the end of 2024.

Energy security-sustainability nexus in times of war: crisis-driven emergency response for the Green Deal?

Michèle Knodt/Marc Ringel

In response to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, the European Union (EU) has taken short-, medium- and long-term measures in the area of energy policy. They address both the goal of security of supply and sustainability. In doing so, the EU makes partial use of the possibilities of the emergency measures of Article 122 Treaty on the Functioning of the EU for such crisis situations. This has two consequences. On the one hand, the EU is thus creating a legitimacy deficit for itself. On the other hand, it can use this approach to overcome limitations in energy policy due to a lack of competences and to further advance the Green Deal despite the war-related focus on energy security.

Team & authors

About the integration project: The quarterly journal "integration" is a theory-driven and policy-related interdisciplinary forum for fundamental questions of European integration. Contemporary issues in European politics are discussed from a political and academic perspective.

ISSN/ISBN: 0720-5120, 2941-8895
Image copyright: IEP/Lindner/Beinroth