Summary: The paper analyses the national debate on the future of Europe in the candidate countries from Central and Eastern Europe. The positions taken by representatives of governments and national parliaments at the European Convention show that divergences in the EU integration process do not occur between new and older Member States, but in relation to the interests of each country. All Central and Eastern European countries argue for maintaining and reinforcing the community method, which would strengthen their political power and allow defending their interests in international fora. They are mostly concerned about the role and representation of small and medium sized countries in an enlarged EU. It is not possible to consider the 10 Central European countries as a homogenous group. Each country has its own political and strategic preferences and interests. At the same time, official positions of most Central European governments are similar on guiding principles such as the wish of preserving the institutional balance, maintaining the current number of institutions and ensuring more openness and transparency. On the institutions, national positions represent many similarities such as rejection of the idea of a permanent President of the European Council (with the exception of Poland) and a support for team presidency (e.g. Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia). Basically all of the applicant countries follow the same line of argumentation and their representatives have participated in common initiatives, such as the "group of 16", a joint initiative of 16 smaller and medium Member States and candidates for accession on the reform of institutions. In some cases, positions have been modelled according to or got inspired from national positions of some of the current Member States. To illustrate, the Bulgarian and the Czech proposals are very close to the Belgian position. Like some current EU Member States, including Austria, Sweden and Finland, the countries that last joined the EU
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