French Foreign Policy Toward Central Eastern Europe
Ten years after the European Union’s eastern enlargement, France has a real presence in the region
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, France reacted cautiously to the political and economic changes in the east, insisting on conditions for Central Eastern European countries (CEECs) to join the EU. Yet ultimately, the CEECs’ rapid reform course managed to convince French actors of the importance of this region.
Has Paris integrated these new actors into its European policy?
The study maps the political, economic, and cultural relations between France and the Central Eastern European countries ten years after the EU’s 2004 eastern enlargement. It shows that, although France has not officially or explicitly elevated the region to the status of a foreign policy priority, there is a real French presence in the region. As a general rule, France has been prioritizing the development of relations with the biggest Central Eastern European countries (and markets) and with the most francophone ones. The paper illustrates this by analyzing France’s recent investment in its bilateral relationship with Poland. This relationship has witnessed significant developments—first and foremost in the field of defense and security—and bears great potential. The paper concludes by discussing what the ongoing Franco-Polish rapprochement means for the Weimar Triangle dynamic and for EU foreign policy, in particular in the context of the Ukraine crisis.