Uneven development in the EU

Processes of core-periphery relations *

Authored by: Joachim Becker , Rudy Weissenbacher , Johannes Jäger

The Routledge Handbook of Critical European Studies

Print publication date:  December  2020
Online publication date:  December  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138589919
eBook ISBN: 9780429491306
Adobe ISBN:


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The tale of cohesion and convergence constitutes an important element of the legend of European integration in Western Europe after World War II. Peripheral countries and regions would economically converge towards the level of the core, leading to social cohesion in a soft power block that was labelled as a ‘peace project’. In peripheral countries, promises of convergence and cohesion offered a perspective of a brighter future, especially if such ‘modernization’ was coupled with a more democratic future, such as in the fascist dictatorships of Greece, Portugal and Spain. The liberal ideology of the Western integration model that would become the European Union (EU) successfully established a narrative that it institutionalised and resembled a general ‘European’ heritage and ‘European’ core values of ‘liberty and solidarity, tolerance and human rights, democracy and the rule of law’, as Olli Rehn, then EU commissioner for enlargement, put it in 2005 (quoted in Weissenbacher 2007, 36). In the early 1990s, this liberal ‘Europe’ had a strong appeal in countries of the imploding state socialist integration model – the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) and in the wealthier regions of Yugoslavia.

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