Europeanisation through Crossloading
: Polish-German relations on Eastern policy

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This PhD examines the Europeanisation of Polish-German relations regarding Eastern policy. It contributes to existing studies of Polish and German Eastern policies by explaining whether, how and why the EU has shaped their bilateral impacts. The thesis re-examines the well-known Europeanisation models of up- and downloading and develops the under-researched model of crossloading by putting forward a rational institutionalist explanation. Applying a process tracing method, the thesis argues that Polish and German foreign policy makers sought to maximise the strategic and legitimising usage of the EU to attain their own strategic Eastern policy interests. The thesis identifies strategic socialisation and experiential learning within the cooperative CFSP framework as two key causal mechanisms explaining bilateral compromises between these two countries, resulting in bilateral policy transfers on their Eastern policies. It also shows that Germany and Poland sought to achieve a politics of scale through recognising each other’s influence within the EU. The thesis explains that their interests in common EU Eastern policies enabled Germany to influence Poland towards a more cooperative Russia policy. Meanwhile, Poland convinced Germany of the Eastern Partnership in return for Polish concessions relating to an EU enlargement policy towards Eastern Europe. The thesis also discusses the mutual Polish-German influences in the contexts of the Association Agreement with Ukraine, as well as Poland’s role in Germany’s recent criticism of Russian aggressive foreign policy. Finally, the thesis explains their inability to overcome bilateral Eastern policy divergences in the pre- and post-enlargement periods, as well as Poland’s constrained influence over Germany in the recent negotiations on the Ukraine-Russia crisis. The thesis concludes that while the Europeanisation processes have led to Polish-German bilateral impacts, their lacking uploading interests and their weaker orientation towards compromise on EU policies have limited their potential for such impacts.
Date of Award28 Nov 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bristol
SupervisorMagnus Feldmann (Supervisor) & Ana E Juncos (Supervisor)

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