Download PDF: Assessing the 16+1 Format: A Testing Ground
For almost a century, the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe gazed towards the West, longing to be part of it. Despite their uncomfortable geographies, despite the prolonged Soviet influence, despite being forcefully separated from their European peers. And after the end of the Cold War their turbulent histories seemed to come to an end. The West looked back. It gazed eastwards and offered them the possibility of joining its ranks. In 2004 and 2007, almost all the former Communist states became full-fledged members of the European Union. And the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe no longer needed to look west, because they had become a part of it. What they needed to do was to find a strategic identity to ensure their competitiveness in their enlarged Occidental family and to integrate their commercial flows into the wider global economy. The financial crisis altered the region’s perspective, determining it to find additional markets for exports and a set of new partners for trade and investments.