In 1991, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia – as it still was then – joined forces to work together more closely and prepare their planned EU accession.
The Visegrad Group (also known as the “Visegrad Four” or simply “V4”) was set up to reflect the efforts of the countries of the Central European region to work together in a number of fields of common interest within the all-European integration. The four countries have always been part of a single civilization sharing cultural and intellectual values and common roots in diverse religious traditions, which they wish to preserve and further strengthen.
All the V4 countries aspired to become members of the European Union, perceiving their integration in the EU as another step forward in the process of overcoming artificial dividing lines in Europe through mutual support. They reached this aim in 2004 (1st May) when they all became members of the EU.
Today, the V4 countries exchange information and develop priority programs in order better to cooperate in an increasing number of areas. An important basic principle is that, within the EU, the V4 carry more weight as an alliance than they would as individual countries. Each year a different member of the group takes over the V4 presidency
Economically, if the group is counted as a single nation state, the V4 would be the fifth largest-economy in Europe and 12th globally. Its population of 64 million would rank it 22nd-largest in the world and 4th in Europe. Most live in Poland (38 million), followed by the Czech Republic (nearly 11 million), Hungary (nearly 10 million) and Slovakia (5.5 million).
In the recent discussions for the appointment of the leaders in the EU institutions, one could read about the effort and diplomatic strength of the group of countries to influence and/or block of the appointments.
Some even attribute to them the failure of the Lead Candidate system.
Observers often refer to the V4 as “two plus two,” because of their differing attitudes to European integration. Slovakia and the Czech Republic are comparatively Europe-friendly, whereas Hungary and Poland take a much more euroskeptic approach. These two, in particular, are keen to give member states within the EU a much stronger role once more: They want to see a “Europe of homelands” rather than a political union.