The European socialist countries’ strategy of engagement with the West and the European Economic Community in the long 1970s

In September 2020, Routledge published  European Socialist Regimes’ Fateful Engagement with the West, National Strategies in the Long 1970s, edited by Angela Romano and Federico Romero.

This edited volume analyses European socialist countries’ strategy of engagement with the West and the European Economic Community in the long 1970s.

The book focuses on a time when the socialist regimes of Central and Eastern Europe banked their hopes for prosperity and stability on enhanced relations with the West. Crossing the traditional differences among diverse fields of historiography, it assesses the complex influence of European and global processes of transformation on the socialist elites’ reading of the international political and economic environment and their consequent decision-making. The volume also explores the debate in each country among and within the elites involved in policymaking as they elaborated this strategic view and coped with shortcomings and unexpected turns. A comparative analysis of national cases shows a shared logic and common patterns, together with national variations and a plurality of views on the desirability of exchanges with their capitalist neighbours and on the ways to promote them. The multinational coverage of seven countries makes this volume a starting point for anyone interested in each socialist state’s foreign policy, intra-bloc relations, economic strategy, transformation and collapse, relations with the European Community and access to the EU.

This book is of much interest to students and researchers of Cold War Studies, European history, and International Relations.

The Open Access version of this book, available at, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.

My chapter — Romania turns West: National and International Rationales — analyses the rationales that prompted the Romanian leaders to forge the country’s (well-studied) special relations with the West and its approach to the European Economic Community, their expectations and the overall results of that endeavour. Drawing mainly from evidence from the archives of the Romanian Communist Party and the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this chapter illustrates both domestic and international rationales, such as the national strategy for economic development, interpretations and perceptions of the impact of Western European integration on Romanian commercial interests, and the consequences of the 1979 oil crisis. It also reveals a more complex and diverse set of elites that decided on Romania’s approach to the West, challenging the view of a solitary dictator in power.

This book is one of the two outputs of our PanEur1970s project, which received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant Agreement n. 669194).

The other outputs is the PanEur1970s interactive map .

The interactive map is intended to illustrate the pluralistic debate about opening to the West and the EEC which took place within each socialist country in the long 1970s.

The interactive map is easy to navigate and is designed as a free-access, user-friendly tool for humanities and social sciences scholars and students as well as members of the general public who are curious about the subject.


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