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Europarties in the neighbourhood: how transnational party politics bind Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans to the EU

Abstract

Transnational European party federations—‘Europarties’—are an overlooked actor of EU external relations despite their strong footprint outside the EU. This article discusses the activities of Europarties as networks of EU external relations closely aligned with the interests and values of EU foreign policy but conditioned by their character as transnational partisan actors with distinct ideological affinity and political commitments to partner parties in the European neighbourhood. Empirically, the article investigates the activities of the centre-right European People’s Party in Georgia and North Macedonia, demonstrating how Europarties can act as amplifiers of EU influence in Eastern Europe and Western Balkans, but also how their partisan interests often come into tension with EU priorities. The findings carry implications for the theory and practice of EU relations with its neighbourhood at a time when prospects for further enlargement appear significantly weakened.

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Notes

  1. Interview with EPP official, Brussels, 18 July 2013. Interview with PES official, Brussels, 11 July 2013.

  2. Interview with ex-UNM cadre, Brussels, 15 November 2018.

  3. Interview with ex-VMRO member, Skopje, 16 November 2018.

  4. Interview with ex-VMRO member, Skopje, 16 November 2018.

  5. Interview with PES official, Brussels, 11 July 2013.

  6. Interview with EPP official, Brussels, 26 November 2018.

  7. Interview with EPP official, Brussels, 26 November 2018.

  8. Interview with EPP official, Brussels, 26 November 2018. Interview with VMRO cadre, Skopje, 28 November 2018.

  9. Interview with VMRO cadre, Skopje, 27 November 2018.

  10. Interview with ex-UNM cadre, Brussels, 15 November 2018.

  11. Interview with EPP official, Brussels, 26 November 2018.

  12. Interview with ex-UNM cadre, Brussels, 15 November 2018.

  13. Interview with ex-UNM cadre, Brussels, 15 November 2018.

  14. Interview with EPP official, Brussels, 26 November 2018.

  15. Interview with VMRO cadre, Skopje, 28 November 2018.

  16. Interview with VMRO cadre, Skopje, 27 November 2018.

  17. Interview with VMRO cadre, Skopje, 28 November 2018.

  18. Interview with VMRO cadre, Skopje, 28 November 2018.

  19. Interview with ex-UNM cadre, Brussels, 15 November 2018.

  20. Interview with EPP official, Brussels, 26 November 2018.

  21. Interview with ex-VMRO member, Skopje, 17 November 2018. Interview with VMRO cadre, Skopje, 28 November 2018.

  22. Interview with EPP official, Brussels, 26 November 2018.

  23. Interview with ex-VMRO member, Skopje, 16 November 2018.

  24. Interview with EPP official, Brussels, 26 November 2018.

  25. Interview with EPP official, Brussels, 26 November 2018. Interview with ex-UNM cadre, Brussels, 15 November 2018.

  26. Interview with EPP official, Brussels, 26 November 2018. Interview with ex-VMRO member, Skopje, 17 November 2018.

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Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank Stelios Stavridis and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on previous drafts of the article. He would also like to express his gratitude to all European and national party officials who agreed to be interviewed. Any errors and omissions are the author’s alone.

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Correspondence to Angelos Chryssogelos.

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Chryssogelos, A. Europarties in the neighbourhood: how transnational party politics bind Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans to the EU. Comp Eur Polit 19, 77–93 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41295-020-00223-4

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Keywords

  • Europarties
  • EU foreign policy
  • European People’s Party (EPP)
  • Georgia
  • North Macedonia
  • European Neighbourhood Policy