Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Politics in Central Europe

The Journal of the Central European Political Science Association

2 Issues per year

Open Access
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Newcomer, Normal Player or Regional Leader? Perceptions of Poland in the EU

Petr Kratochvíl
  • Email:
/ Matúš Mišík
  • Email:
Published Online: 2016-11-17 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/pce-2015-0003


This study analyses the status of the new EU member states and, in particular, Poland as it is perceived by the representatives of the older EU members. On a theoretical level, it argues that the transformation of the newcomers into “normal players” or even “regional leaders” is dependent on five specific conditions that each of these countries must fulfil. These range from (1) simple compliance with the EU’s basic norms and (2) a sufficient level of orientation in EU decision-making to (3) establishment of the country’s unique policy expertise, (4) the ability to create winning coalitions and finally and above all (5) a willingness to defend the interests of the Union as a whole. On an empirical level, we draw on an extensive set of interviews with diplomats belonging to the permanent representation of the old member states in Brussels. Based on these data, we conclude that (1) Poland has already established itself as a normal EU player fully comparable with the older member states. In terms of the country’s leadership status, (2) Poland has also moved to the position of frontrunner among the new member states. However, the country still fails in at least one criterion: (regional) leadership. This precludes it from becoming a fully respected and leading state in the EU.

Keywords: European Union; Poland; new member states; perceptions; leader


  • Aggestam, L. (2012): European Foreign Policy and the Quest for a Global Role: Britain, France and Germany, London, Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Barbé, E. – Costa, O. – Herranz, A. – Johansson-Nogués, E. – Natorski, M. – Sabiote, M.A. (2009): Drawing the Neighbours Closer.to What? Explaining Emerging Patterns of Policy Convergence between the EU and its Neighbours. Cooperation and Conflict 44 (4): 378–399.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Bielasiak, J. (2002): Determinants of Public Opinion Differences on EU Accession in Poland. Europe-Asia Studies 54 (8): 1241–1266.Google Scholar

  • Blazyca, G. – Kolkiewicz, M. (1999): Poland and the EU: Internal Disputes, Domestic Politics and Accession. Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics 15 (4): 131–143.Google Scholar

  • Boeri, T. – Brücker, H. (2000): The Impact of Eastern Enlargement on Employment and Labour Markets in the EU Member States, Berlin and Milano, European Integration Consortium.Google Scholar

  • Boulding, K. E. (1959): National Images and International Systems. Journal of Conflict Resolution 3 (2): 120–131.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Böhmelt, T. – Freyburg, T. (2013): The Temporal Dimension of the Credibility of EU Conditionality and Candidate States’ Compliance with the Acquis Communautaire, 1998 – 2009. European Union Politics 14 (2): 250–272.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Browing, C.S. – Christou, G. (2010): The Constitutive Power of Outsiders: The European Neighbourhood Policy and the Eastern Dimension. Political Geography 29 (2): 109–118.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Bruter, M. (2004): On What Citizens Mean by Feeling ‘European’: Perceptions of News, Symbols and Borderlessness. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 30 (1): 21–39.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Caddy, J. (1997): Harmonization and Asymmetry: Environmental Policy Co-ordination between the European Union and Central Europe. Journal of European Public Policy 4 (3): 318–336.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Cameron, D. (2003): The Challenges of Accession. East European Politics and Societies 17 (1): 24–41.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Catalinac, A.L. (2007): Identity Theory and Foreign Policy: Explaining Japan’s Responses to the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 U.S. War in Iraq. Politics & Policy 35 (1): 58–100.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Chafetz, G. (1997): The Struggle for a National Identity in Post-Soviet Russia. International Studies Quarterly 111 (4): 661–688.Google Scholar

  • Copeland, P. (2012): EU Enlargement, the Clash of Capitalisms and the European Social Model. Comparative European Politics 10 (4): 476–504.Google Scholar

  • Copeland, P. (2013): Central and Eastern Europe: Negotiating Influence in an Enlarged European Union. Europe-Asia Studies 66 (3): 467–487.Google Scholar

  • Copsey, N. – Haughton, T. (2009): The Choices for Europe: National Preferences in New and Old Member States. Journal of Common Market Studies 47 (2): 263–286.Google Scholar

  • Copsey, N. – Pomorska, K. (2010): Poland’s Power and Influence in the European Union. Comparative European Politics 8 (1): 304–326.Google Scholar

  • Copsey, N. and Pomorska, K. (2013): The Influence of Newer Member States in the European Union: The Case of Poland and the Eastern Partnership. Europe Asia Studies 66 (3) 421–443.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Dimitrova, A. L. (2002): Enlargement, Institution-Building and the EU’s Administrative Capacity Requirement. West European Politics 25 (4): 171–190.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Dimitrova, A.L. (2010): The New Member States of the EU in the Aftermath of Enlargement: Do New European Rules Remain Empty Shells? Journal of European Public Policy 17 (1): 137–148.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Epstein, R. A. and Jacoby, W. (2014): Eastern Enlargement Ten Years On: Transcending the East–West Divide? Journal of Common Market Studies 52 (1): 1–16.Google Scholar

  • Falkner, G. – Treib, O. (2008): Three Worlds of Compliance or Four? The EU-15 Compared to New Member States. Journal of Common Market Studies 46 (2): 293–313.Google Scholar

  • Ferry, M. (2003): The EU and Recent Regional Reform in Poland. Europe-Asia Studies 55 (7) 1097–1116.Google Scholar

  • Genna, G.M. (2009): Positive Country Images, Trust and Public Support for European Integration. Comparative European Politics 7 (2): 213–232.Google Scholar

  • Grabbe, H. (2002): Europeanisation Goes East: Power and Uncertainty in the EU Accession Process, in Featherstone K. – Radaelli C., eds. The Politics of Europeanisation, Oxford, Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Gupta, J. – van der Grijp, N. (2000) Perceptions of the EU’s Role. Is the EU a Leader?, in Gupta J. & Grubb M.J., eds., Climate Change and European Leadership: A Suitable Role for Europe? Dordrecht, Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar

  • Goetz, K.H. (2005) The New Member States and the EU: Responding to Europe, in Bulmer S. – Lequesne C., eds., The Member States of the European Union, Oxford, Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Harnisch, S. – Frank, C. – Maull, H.W. (2011): Role Theory in International Relations. Approaches and Analyses, London, Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Haughton, T. (2009): For Business, for Pleasure or for Necessity: The Czech Republic’s Choices for Europe. Europe-Asia Studies 61 (8): 1371–1392.Google Scholar

  • Haughton, T. (2010) Vulnerabilities, Accession Hangovers and the Presidency Role: Explaining New EU Member States’ Choices for Europe. Mezinárodní vztahy 45 (4): 11–28.Google Scholar

  • Heller, R. (2009): Notions of Insecurity and Security Policy within the EU: A Historical Perspective, Economics of Security Working Paper 4, Berlin, DIW.Google Scholar

  • Holsti, K.J. (1970): National Role Conceptions in the Study of Foreign Policy. International Studies Quarterly 14 (3): 233–309.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Hughes, G. – Bucknall, J. (2000): Poland. Complying with EU Environmental Legislation, Washington, D.C., The World Bank.Google Scholar

  • Hughes, J. – Sasse, G. – Gordon, C. (2004): Conditionality and Compliance in the EU’s Eastward Enlargement: Regional Policy and the Reform of Sub-national Government. Journal of Common Market Studies 42 (3): 523–551.Google Scholar

  • Ilonszki, G. (2009): Perceptions of the European Union in New Member States. A Comparative Perspective, London, Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Ilonszki G (2009a): National Discontent and EU Support in Central and Eastern Europe, in Ilonszki, G., ed., Perceptions of the European Union in New Member States. A Comparative Perspective. London, Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Jervis, R. (1976): Perception and Misperception in International Politics, Princeton, Princeton University Press.Google Scholar

  • Jones, E. (2009): Output Legitimacy and the Global Financial Crisis: Perceptions Matter. Journal of Common Market Studies 47 (5): 1085–1105.Google Scholar

  • Karolewski, I. P. – Sus, M. (2011): The Polish EU Council Presidency: Poland as a Mediator, Warsaw, FES.Google Scholar

  • Keukeleire, S. – Bruyninckx, H. (2011): The European Union, the BRICs, and the Emerging New World Order, in Hill C. – Smith M., eds., International Relations and the European Union, Oxford, Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Kratochvíl, P. (ed) (2013): The EU as a Political Actor: The Analysis of Four Dimensions of the EU’s Actorness, Baden-Baden: Nomos.Google Scholar

  • Lackowska-Madurowicz, M. and Swianiewicz, P. (2013): Structures, Procedures and Social Capital:The Implementation of EU Cohesion Policies by Subnational Governments in Poland. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 37 (4): 1396–1418.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Lasas, A. (2008): Restituting Victims: EU and NATO Enlargement through the Lenses of Collective Guilt. Journal of European Public Policy 15(1): 98–116.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Lippert, B. – Umbach, G. (2005): The Pressure of Europeanisation: From Post-Communist State Administrations to Normal Players in the EU System, Baden Baden, Nomos.Google Scholar

  • Lucarelli, S. (2014): Seen from the Outside: The State of the Art on the External Image of the EU. Journal of European Integration 36 (1): 1–16.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Maliszewska, M. (2004): EU Enlargement: Benefits of the Single Market Expansion for Current and New Member States, CASE Network Studies and Analyses, Warsaw, CASE.Google Scholar

  • Mattlin, M., (2012): Dead on Arrival: Normative EU Policy towards China. Asia Europe Journal 10 (2–3): 181–198.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • McLean, C. – Gray, T. (2009): Liberal Intergovernmentalism, Historical Institutionalism, and British and German Perceptions of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy. Marine Policy 33 (3): 458–465.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Mišík, M. (2013): How can Perception Help us to Understand the Dynamic between EU Member States? The State of the Art. Asia Europe Journal 11 (4): 445–463.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Mišík, M. (2014): Our New Allies? Perception of the New Member States of the EU by the Old Members. Czech Journal of Political Science 21 (3): 345–351.Google Scholar

  • Mišík, M. (2015): The Influence of Perception on the Preferences of the New Member States of the European Union: The Case of Energy Policy. Comparative European Politics 13 (2): 198–221.Google Scholar

  • Moravcsik, A. – Vachudová, M.A. (2003): National Interests, State Power, and EU Enlargement. East European Politics and Societies 17 (1): 42–57.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Nguyen, E.S. (2008): Drivers and Brakemen: State Decisions on the Road to European Integration. European Union Politics 9 (2): 269–293.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Pridham, G. (2008): The EU’s Political Conditionality and Post-Accession Tendencies: Comparisons from Slovakia and Latvia. Journal of Common Market Studies 46 (2): 365–387.Google Scholar

  • Pointvogl, A. (2009): Perceptions, Realities, Concession – What is Driving the Integration of European Energy Policies? Energy Policy 37 (12): 5704–5716.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Pomorska, K. and Vanhoonacker, S. (2012): Poland in the Driving Seat: A Mature Presidency in Turbulent Times. Journal of Common Market Studies 50 (S2): 76–84.Google Scholar

  • Preston, C. – Michonski, A. (1999): Negotiating Regulatory Alignment in Central Europe? The Case of the Poland EU European Conformity Assessment Agreement, Sussex, Sussex European Institute.Google Scholar

  • Roth, M. (2011): Poland as a Policy Entrepreneur in European External Energy Policy: Towards Greater Energy Solidarity vis-à-vis Russia? Geopolitics 16 (3), 600–625.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Schimmelfennig, F. (2001): The Community Trap: Liberal Norms, Rhetorical Action, and the Eastern Enlargement of the European Union. International Organization 55 (1): 47–80.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Sedelmeier, U. (2006): The EU’s Role as a Promoter of Human Rights and Democracy, in Elgström O. – Smith M., eds., The European Union’s Roles in International Politics. Concepts and Analysis, London, Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Sedelmeier, U. (2006a): Europeanisation in New Member and Candidate States. Living Reviews in European Governance 1 (3): 4–34.Google Scholar

  • Schmimmelfennig, F. – Sedelmeier, U. (2004): Governance by Conditionality: EU Rule Transfer to the Candidate Countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Journal of European Public Policy 11 (4): 661–679.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Silverstein, B. (1989): Enemy Images. The Psychology of U.S. Attitudes and Cognitions Regarding the Soviet Union. American Psychology 44 (6): 903–913.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Silverstein, B. – Flamenbaum, C. (1989): Biases in the Perception and Cognition of the Action of Enemies. Journal of Sociological Issues 45 (2): 51–72.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Taggart, P. – Szczerbiak, A. (2002): The Party Politics of Euroscepticism in EU Member and Candidate States, Sussex, Sussex European Institute.Google Scholar

  • Tosun, J. (2011): When the Grace Period is Over: Assessing the New Member States’ Compliance with EU Requirements for Oil Stockholding. Energy Policy 39 (11): 7156–7164.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Vandecasteele, B., Bossuyt, F. and Orbie, J. (2013): Unpacking the influence of the Council Presidency on European Union external policies: The Polish Council Presidency and the Eastern Partnership. European Integration online Papers 17 (1): article 5.Google Scholar

  • Vaughan-Whitehead, D. (2003): EU Enlargement versus Social Europe? The Uncertain Future of the European Social Model, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar

  • Vilpišauskas, R. (2013): Lithuania’s EU Council Presidency: Negotiating Finances, Dealing with Geopolitics. Journal of Common Market Studies 52 (S1): 99–108.Google Scholar

  • Zaghini, A. (2005): Evolution of Trade Patterns in the New EU Member States. Economics of Transition 13 (4): 629–658.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Zielonka, J. (2004): Challenges of EU Enlargement. Journal of Democracy 15 (1): 22–35.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Wallace, H. (2005): Exercising Power and Influence in the European Union: The Roles of Member States, in Bulmer S. – Lequesne C., eds., The Member States of the European Union, Oxford, Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • White, J. (2010): Europe in the Political Imagination. Journal of Common Market Studies 48 (4): 1015–1038.Google Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2016-11-17

Published in Print: 2015-04-01

Citation Information: Politics in Central Europe, ISSN (Online) 1801-3422, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/pce-2015-0003.

Export Citation

© 2015 Petr Kratochvíl et al., published by De Gruyter Open. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in