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Compliance in the EU enlargement process: The limits of conditionality


  • Steunenberg, Bernard
  • Dimitrova, Antoaneta


In this article we analyze the effectiveness of EU conditionality. Viewing accession negotiations as a bargaining game, we find incentives to defect exist if the final date of accession is known, but conditions for cooperation prevail if the date is not known. Therefore we find that regardless of domestic conditions, EU conditionality is not equally effective throughout the period of preparation of a candidate for accession. Its effectiveness decreases sharply when the accession date is set and at that stage, as empirical evidence shows, the EU accepts the candidate’s state of reforms as sufficient. This can lead to potential problems with the transposition of EU directives just before and after accession. Our empirical overview shows that by means of breaking the process of enlargement into multiple stages and attaching conditions to the attaining every stage, the EU has aimed to prevent candidates from abandoning reform efforts by increasing their uncertainty about the final date of accession.

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  • Steunenberg, Bernard & Dimitrova, Antoaneta, 2007. "Compliance in the EU enlargement process: The limits of conditionality," European Integration online Papers (EIoP), European Community Studies Association Austria (ECSA-A), vol. 11, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:erp:eiopxx:p0159

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bernard Steunenberg, 2001. "Enlargement and Institutional Reform in the European Union: Separate or Connected Issues?," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 351-370, December.
    2. Vachudova, Milada Anna, 2005. "Europe Undivided: Democracy, Leverage, and Integration After Communism," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199241194.
    3. Martin J. Osborne & Ariel Rubinstein, 1994. "A Course in Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262650401.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nikitas Konstantinidis & Yannis Karagiannis, 0. "Intrinsic vs. extrinsic incentives for reform: An informational mechanism of E(M)U conditionality," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 0, pages 1-32.
    2. Hakan Cavlak & Davuthan Gunaydın, 2015. "Limited Impact of the EU on Candidate States:Turkey’s Employment Policy," International Journal of Research in Business and Social Science (2147-4478), Center for the Strategic Studies in Business and Finance, vol. 4(4), pages 01-14, October.
    3. Knill, Christoph & Tosun, Jale, 2009. "Post-accession transposition of EU law in the new member states: a cross-country comparison," European Integration online Papers (EIoP), European Community Studies Association Austria (ECSA-A), vol. 13, December.
    4. Ron Boschma & Simona Iammarino & Raffaele Paci & Jordy Suriñach & Will Bartlett & Nevenka Čučković & Krešimir Jurlin, 2017. "A Comparative Perspective on Institutional Quality in Countries at Different Stages of European Integration," Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, Royal Dutch Geographical Society KNAG, vol. 108(1), pages 92-108, February.
    5. Hakan Cavlak & Hayriye Isik, 2015. "The Limits of Conditionality: Turkey –EU Taxation Negotiations," International Journal of Finance & Banking Studies, Center for the Strategic Studies in Business and Finance, vol. 4(4), pages 29-43, October.
    6. Tobias Böhmelt & Tina Freyburg, 2013. "The temporal dimension of the credibility of EU conditionality and candidate states’ compliance with the acquis communautaire, 1998–2009," European Union Politics, , vol. 14(2), pages 250-272, June.
    7. Maike Sippel & Karsten Neuhoff, 2009. "A history of conditionality: lessons for international cooperation on climate policy," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(5), pages 481-494, September.
    8. Nikitas Konstantinidis & Yannis Karagiannis, 2020. "Intrinsic vs. extrinsic incentives for reform: An informational mechanism of E(M)U conditionality," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 601-632, July.
    9. Jano, Dorian, 2012. "Implementation of the acquis communautaire in EU candidate countries: A reappraisal," Discussion Papers 2/12, Europa-Kolleg Hamburg, Institute for European Integration.
    10. Baccini, Leonardo, 2010. "Explaining formation and design of EU trade agreements: the role of transparency and flexibility," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 45565, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    11. Klimov, Blagoy, 2010. "Challenging path dependence? Ideational mapping of nationalism and the EU’s transformative power: The case of infrastructural politics in SEE," MPRA Paper 30985, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Jale Tosun, 2014. "Absorption of Regional Funds: A Comparative Analysis," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 371-387, March.

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