In line with expectations EU membership has only a limited impact on party politics in the new Member States of central and eastern Europe (CEE); even the economic crisis has not altered this level of impact. An examination of party positioning, party appeals and party competition indicates the EU plays the role of a boundary keeper, a reference point and a weapon to be invoked in domestic competition, particularly to lambast opponents for their incompetence, especially when it comes to the ability to access and manage EU funds. Underlying parties' stances on European integration are the deep-rooted vulnerabilities which help explain why the CEE states recognize the necessity of co-operation and a pooling of sovereignty at the European level.