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Power Asymmetry Revisited: Reconciling EU Foreign Policy Goals and Enlargement Conditionality in the Western Balkans
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government.
2013 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The EU is assumed to have a strong top-down transformative power over the states applying for membership. This leverage is based on a power asymmetry where the applicant states want to join the EU more than the EU wants to enlarge, and that the applicant states gain more than the member states from the enlargement.This thesis criticises the assumption of a strong top-down power over EU applicant states. There is growing evidence that this power asymmetry is not as strong as initially assumed. A historical institutionalist approach is used to explain how the power is weakened through the design of the conditionality and the management of the enlargement policy. The first study shows how the member states are locked up in a path dependent pattern where their capacity to act is limited. Lock-in effects narrow down the options to act for the EU member states, giving priority to political considerations over technical standards and thus limits its transformative power. In addition to that the EU has demonstrated a strategic interest in the Western Balkans, further undermining the power asymmetry. The second study demonstrates how the EU has limited capacity to influence the implementation of the conditionality, leaving much room for interpretation to the domestic actors. The design of the EU conditionality, with its focus on formal structures and rules, is not adequate to address also the desired normative transformation of the applicant states. The EU can provoke formal changes, but layers of the old structures and habits remain beyond the reach of the EU’s transformative power. Together these two studies demonstrate that the EU’s assumed top-down control over applicant states has some built-in weaknesses both at the Brussels level and in the applicant states, and that those weaknesses affect the transformative power of the EU. The tendency to give priority to political considerations over strict conditionality, in combination with limited scope of the conditionality, demonstrate that the power asymmetry is not that asymmetric, and that the EU does not have the institutional capacity to be the normative power and change agent it strives to be. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2013. , 56 p.
Series
Uppsala Studies on Eastern Europe, ISSN 1104-6481 ; 3
Keyword [en]
EU enlargement, EU foreign policy, EU conditionality, power asymmetry, historical institutionalism, path dependence, institutional layering, Western Balkans, Macedonia, elections
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-204175ISBN: 978-91-554-8704-1 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-204175DiVA: diva2:637994
Presentation
2013-08-29, Brusewitzsalen, Statsvetenskapliga institutionen, Gamla Torget 6, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-08-14 Created: 2013-07-23 Last updated: 2017-09-05Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Path Dependency in EU Enlargement: Macedonia's Candidate Status from a Historical Institutional Perspective
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Path Dependency in EU Enlargement: Macedonia's Candidate Status from a Historical Institutional Perspective
2009 (English)In: European Foreign Affairs Review, ISSN 1384-6299, Vol. 14, no 1, 89-112 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

 

This article argues that EU enlargement policy and actions within that field are guided by the logic of path dependency. By studying the decision to confer candidate status on Macedonia in 2005, which was granted despite important shortcomings regarding democracy and rule of law, we can reveal key aspects of the decision-making process regarding the enlargement policy. The Macedonian crisis in 2001 was instrumental in shaping EU enlargement policy as a foreign policy tool to promote peace and stability in the Western Balkans. The peace agreement that ended the conflict, in turn, became an important reference for measuring reform progress in Macedonia. The enlargement policy thus became locked in a path-dependent pattern, where the implementation of the peace agreement from 2001 has become very important. The strong commitments by the EU towards Macedonia are identified as a particularly strong mechanism influencing the path dependent pattern. Where other influential theories cannot explain contradictions between EU Member State voting and preferences, or ignorance of democratic shortcomings, historical institutionalism offers tools to make such theoretical inconsistencies intelligible.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Kluwer Law International, 2009
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-98743 (URN)
Available from: 2009-03-03 Created: 2009-03-03 Last updated: 2013-07-25Bibliographically approved
2. Deliberate or Serendipitous Compliance with EU Political Criteria: Explaining shifts in Macedonian electoral conduct
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Deliberate or Serendipitous Compliance with EU Political Criteria: Explaining shifts in Macedonian electoral conduct
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Keyword
EU conditionality, Western Balkans, Historical Institutionalism, Europeanisation, Elections, Macedonia
National Category
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-204173 (URN)
Available from: 2013-07-23 Created: 2013-07-23 Last updated: 2013-07-25

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