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Global Shifts and the Limits of the EU’s Transformative Power in the European Periphery: Comparative Perspectives from Hungary and Turkey

  • Ziya Öniş and Mustafa Kutlay

This article highlights the weakening of the EU’s transformative capacity in the broader European periphery in a rapidly shifting global order, with reference to Hungary and Turkey. Although Hungary is an ‘insider’ and Turkey a relative ‘outsider’, their recent experiences display strikingly similar patterns, raising important concerns about the EU’s leverage. Under the influence of strong nationalist-populist leaders backed by powerful majorities, both countries have been moving in an increasingly illiberal direction, away from well-established EU norms. The article proposes an analytical framework based on a combination of push and pull factors that are driven by changing global political economy dynamics, which explains the EU’s declining appeal in its periphery, not only in reference to the internal dynamics of European integration and its multiple crises, but also the appeal of illiberal versions of strategic capitalism employed by rising powers, which serve as reference points for the elites of several states in diverse geographic settings.

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Ziya Öniş is Professor of International Political Economy in the Department of International Relations at Koç University, Istanbul. Contact email:

Mustafa Kutlay is Assistant Professor of International Political Economy in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at TOBB University of Economics and Technology, Ankara. Contact email:

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