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Between Enlargement-led Europeanisation and Balkan Exceptionalism: an appraisal of Bulgaria’s and Romania’s entry into the European Union


  • Dimitris Papadimitriou
  • Eli Gateva


The accession of Bulgaria and Romania into the European Union (EU) in 2007 offers significant theoretical and empirical insights into the way in which the EU has deployed and realised its enlargement strategy/strategies over the past 15 years. Borrowing from the literature on enlargement-led Europeanisation and EU conditionality, this article discusses how the EU has sought to influence domestic reform in the two countries through a mix of threats and rewards. What emerges from Bulgaria’s and Romania’s trajectory towards EU membership is the evolutionary and contested nature of EU conditionality as well as the considerable EU discretion in the manner of its implementation. In that sense Bulgaria and Romania, as ‘outliers’ of the 2004-7 EU enlargement, offer us critical tests of the enlargement-led Europeanisation thesis. Thus, their study provides useful conceptual insights into the transformative power of the EU in Eastern Europe and highlights important policy legacies affecting the current EU enlargement strategy in the Western Balkans and Turkey.

Suggested Citation

  • Dimitris Papadimitriou & Eli Gateva, 2009. "Between Enlargement-led Europeanisation and Balkan Exceptionalism: an appraisal of Bulgaria’s and Romania’s entry into the European Union," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 25, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:hel:greese:25

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Knill, Christoph & Lehmkuhl, Dirk, 1999. "How Europe Matters. Different Mechanisms of Europeanization," European Integration online Papers (EIoP), European Community Studies Association Austria (ECSA-A), vol. 3, June.
    2. Tanja A. Bürzel, 1999. "Towards Convergence in Europe? Institutional Adaptation to Europeanization in Germany and Spain," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(4), pages 573-596, December.
    3. Dimitris Papadimitriou & David Phinnemore, 2004. "Europeanization, Conditionality and Domestic Change: The Twinning Exercise and Administrative Reform in Romania," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(3), pages 619-639, September.
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    Europeanisation; European Union; conditionality; Bulgaria; Romania.;

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