you're reading...
BLOG, Events

Democratic Change in Central and Eastern Europe 1989-90; the European Parliament and the end of the Cold War

In November 1989 the Berlin Wall came down. The disappearance of the most visible symbol of the Cold War was a turning point in post-war history and marked the beginning of a new era in Europe. Countries separated for decades by the Iron Curtain began to prepare for the transition to democracy and accession to the European Union. Democratic change in Central and Eastern Europe, however, started well before 1989. Developments were closely observed and debated not only by national governments but also by the European Parliament. Clearly voicing its concerns about what was happening in Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia even before its first direct elections in 1979, the EP took a clear stance from the very beginning in condemning human rights violations while supporting movements towards democratisation in Central and Eastern Europe.

The nature of the debate

Discussions were often heated and controversial. The question of German unification and of national self-determination in both the GDR and the Baltic States clearly divided MEPs. Also initial debates on accession were characterised by stark differences of opinion concerning the timeframe and the depth of future cooperation with Central and Eastern Europe.

The EP between action and reaction

Democratic Change in Central and Eastern Europe 1989-90

Democratic Change in Central and Eastern Europe 1989-90

In all its debates the EP tried to find a delicate balance between action and reaction, showing particular concern to promote a vision of itself as a beacon of democracy and human rights. In frequently setting itself against both the Council and the European Commission, the European Parliament clearly tried to influence the terms of discussion. In this sense the Parliament not only closely followed and discussed in depth democratic change in Central and Eastern Europe, it also contributed more or less actively to its progress.

In this context, the Historical Archives Unit has prepared a study entitled: ‘Democratic Change in Central and Eastern Europe 1989-90; the European Parliament and the end of the Cold War‘ (French and German versions will follow), in the European Parliament History Series, based on the documents preserved in the EP’s Historical Archives. The study analyses the events that led to democratic change in Central and Eastern Europe from the perspective of the European Parliament as detailed in its historical documents. It traces the discussions and opinions of Parliament over the years regarding a) the events leading to democratic change in Central and Eastern Europe, paying particular attention to the events of 1989 and b) Post-communism and Eastern enlargement.

A conference is organised on 3 February 2015 at 18.00 pm in the EPRS Library Reading Room, Altiero Spinelli Building (ASP 05D), in the presence of Mr Valdis DOMBROVSKIS, Vice-President of the European Commission (Prime Minister of Latvia 2009 – 2014), Mr Enrique BARÓN CRESPO, former President of the European Parliament, Mr Hans-Gert PÖTTERING, former President of the European Parliament, Ms Marju LAURISTIN, MEP, and Mr Jacek SARYUSZ-WOLSKI, MEP.

For further information on the study, on the presentation and on the documents kept by the Historical Archives, please contact

About Historical Archives

The Historical Archives maintain and make available to the public the documents related to the legislative and political activity of the European Parliament from 1952 until the 6th parliamentary term (2004-2009).


3 thoughts on “Democratic Change in Central and Eastern Europe 1989-90; the European Parliament and the end of the Cold War

  1. I have sent this publication today

    Kind regards

    Amanda Müller-Hahn

    Posted by Amanda Müller-Hahn | November 11, 2016, 10:11
  2. Hello,

    would it be possible to sent me a hard copy of this publication?

    many thanks,

    D.Toornstra Hoogvorstweg 27 3080 Tervuren > Op 28-jan.-2015, om 08:30 heeft European Parliamentary Research Service het volgende geschreven: > >

    Posted by Dirk en Birgitte Toornstra | January 29, 2015, 13:25


  1. Pingback: IATE Term of the week: Iron curtain - Terminology Coordination Unit [DGTRAD] - European Parliament - November 11, 2016

Leave a Reply

Download the EPRS App

EPRS App on Google Play
EPRS App on App Store
What Europe Does For You
EU Legislation in Progress
Topical Digests
EPRS Podcasts

Follow Blog via Email

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,536 other subscribers

Disclaimer and Copyright statement

The content of all documents (and articles) contained in this blog is the sole responsibility of the author and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily represent the official position of the European Parliament. It is addressed to the Members and staff of the EP for their parliamentary work. Reproduction and translation for non-commercial purposes are authorised, provided the source is acknowledged and the European Parliament is given prior notice and sent a copy.

For a comprehensive description of our cookie and data protection policies, please visit Terms and Conditions page.

Copyright © European Union, 2014-2019. All rights reserved.

%d bloggers like this: