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Conditionality and Compliance in the EU's Eastward Enlargement: Regional Policy and the Reform of Sub-national Government

  • James Hughes
  • Gwendolyn Sasse
  • Claire Gordon
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    Studies of EU conditionality assume one basic premise: that it exists and works because there is a power asymmetry which enables the Commission to impose the adoption of the "acquis" on the CEECs as a precondition of their entry to the Union. Thus this literature posits that there are clear causal relationships in the use of conditionality to ensure policy or institutional outcomes. Existing studies of enlargement conditionality analyse its correlation with macro-level democratization and marketization. This article, however, takes a policy-tracking approach to analyse how conditionality was actually put into operation in policy-making and institution-building in the fields of regional policy and regionalization in the CEECs. The research draws on interviews conducted with officials in the Commission and in CEEC delegations in Brussels to illustrate the views of key actors, and to examine the interactions between the Commission and the candidate countries. By studying the policy process, the article demonstrates the fluid nature of conditionality, the inconsistencies in its application by the Commission over time, and the weakness of a clear-cut causal relationship between conditionality and outcome in this policy area. By charting the changes in the Commission's approach over time, and illustrating the diverse responses of the CEECs, this study confirms the need for a more nuanced approach to the concept of EU conditionality, and argues for a logic of differentiation in the study of its impact on the CEECs. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2004.

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    Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Journal of Common Market Studies.

    Volume (Year): 42 (2004)
    Issue (Month): 3 (09)
    Pages: 523-551

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    Handle: RePEc:bla:jcmkts:v:42:y:2004:i:3:p:523-551
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