Constructing Institutional Interests: EU and NATO Enlargement

Karin Marie Fierke, Antje Wiener

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the parallel process of NATO and EU enlargement. The analysis is motivated by both an empirical and a theoretical concern. It asks why both organizations are enlarging, despite questions about the materially based interest in doing so. It then raises a related theoretical question about how organizations know their interests and how these interests are transformed. The relationship between three concepts - speech acts, contextual change, and institutional interests - is explored by following the behaviour of three actors: NATO, EU and the CEECs. The analysis demonstrates how, given the dramatic change of context with the end of the Cold War, the meaning of the Cold War 'promise' of the Helsinki final act was transformed into a threat. The article argues that the rationality of both enlargement decisions has to be situated in a context of a priori and changing meanings regarding the identity and norms of the 'West'.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)721-742
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Identity
  • Speech Act
  • Ceecs
  • Nato
  • Enlargement
  • Eu
  • Helsinki
  • Interests


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