International development policies in Central and Eastern Europe since EU accession: Increasing divergence?

Balázs Szent-Iványi*, Simon Lightfoot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The contribution discusses how the international development policies of four Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) evolved following their accession to the EU. The four states started these policies in the run-up to accession, driven by pressure from the EU. The policies put in place were underfunded and received little political attention, resulting in functionally similar approaches. In the past 10 years however, these policies began to diverge in practices and motivations. This paper provides a comparative analysis of the four policies, focusing on strategies, aid volumes and allocation. The analysis reveals that while Hungary’s approach has diverged the most from the other three, all four are now developing distinct donor profiles. International development policy has become relatively politicized in Hungary and Poland, where governments have used it to promote economic nationalism, ideology and security goals, and have resisted socialization pressures arising from membership in the EU and the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia however, the policy had little political salience, leaving space for aid bureaucracies to shape it according to the norms promoted by these organizations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Contemporary European Studies
Early online date23 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 May 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( 0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.


  • international development policy
  • Central and Eastern Europe
  • EU membership
  • divergence
  • International development policy


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