Study: Hundred Shades of the EU. Mapping the Political Economy of EU Peripheries

The study focuses on the political economy of the EU using core and periphery dynamics and comparative analysis.

It is based on the interdisciplinary approaches taken from economics, political science, sociology and history. The study pays attention to the interplay between the economic system, politics and government to understand how they influence each other, while also being sensitive to ideological and symbolic aspects. The core and periphery dynamics represent a perspective that analyses power (economic, political, ideological) inequalities or asymmetries and critical dependencies in the EU. The study concentrates on two euro-peripheries, Southern Europe and Central and South East Europe. It covers 17 Member States analysed from economic, political and ideological perspectives and compared with each other, including their relations to the core. The key aim is to understand how core-periphery dynamics shape the EU and what it means to be a peripheral state in the EU. We concentrate on limits, constraints, opportunities and the historical embeddedness of peripherality, and on problems stemming from the peripheral position in the EU. These questions are answered by focusing on several dimensions of peripherality in the EU: economic peripherality, political peripherality and ideological/symbolic peripherality, and mutual interactions.

The first part of the study is focused on the socio-economic characteristics of peripherality in the EU and global interaction. We work with three regional groups of countries existing within the two euro-peripheries of our concern. We investigate the historical background and the socio-economic evolution for each of the three regional groups in individual chapters, by highlighting particular economic models that emerged in southern and eastern euro-peripheries over the last thirty or forty years. We have chosen similar socio-economic indicators (selected on previous research) for each region, which give us a focused view of the economy’s structure, debt, taxation and FDI, labour and socioeconomic conditions, and international trade. Yet, another chapter approaches the problem from the perspective of trade networks, global value chains, and the automobile industry in European and global contexts. It observes significant shifts in international trade during 2000-2019, focusing on both euro-peripheries in a larger global context.

The comparative part of the study shows essential differences and commonalities of economic models of both euro-peripheries in different historical contexts. Moreover, we also focus on convergence and divergence questions seen from the perspective of impacts and consequences of the global financial crisis, and on existing dependencies shaping the peripherality of Southern Europe and Central East and South East Europe in the EU.

The study also analyses the political aspects of core-periphery relations in the EU, utilising the concept of cleavages at the national and transnational (EU) level. Moreover, it addresses the problem of political and symbolic (under)representation (and influence) in the EU (with a focus on the leading position in the EU and European Parliament) and the question of potential coalition-building.

The ideological or symbolic/cultural sphere is seen as the next aspect of peripherality. Here, we employed the discursive and comparative approach. We focus on the peripherality as a construction of Otherness in the process of EU “eastern enlargement” (1994-2004) and in the case of the financial crisis in Greece.

The study offers conclusions that should help us better grasp the power asymmetries in the EU from the perspective of both euro-peripheries and a focus on particular problems and phenomena which produce, reproduce and characterise their particular peripheral position. It addresses the most critical issues related to the cohesion and sustainability of the European integration project seen from a peripheral perspective. It provides a knowledge-based background for potential political decision-making and coalition-building and offers comprehensive political implications of the research findings.

The full study will be released in March 2022 as an eBook (English, with an executive summary in BG, CZ, EN, ES, GR, HU, IT, LT, PL, PT, and SH) and will be available on the website of transform! europe.

>>>>[UPDATE] Link to the publication and the executive summaries<<<<

In cooperation with the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung

Research team:

Giuseppe Celi (University of Foggia, Italy)

Valentina Petrović (University of Zurich, Switzerland)

Veronika Sušová-Salminen (Centre of Global Studies, Czech Republic)


Tatiana Moutinho and Dagmar Švendová (transform! europe)