Purpose – Accession to the European Union is one of the most powerful foreign policy tools exercised within the European arena and enlargement negotiations have been a major stimulus to reform in Central and Eastern Europe. Conditionality has evolved as over time into a dynamic instrument used to ensure that new members are sufficiently prepared to take on the responsibilities of EU membership, whilst also satisfying existing member states that new members will not prove too burdensome. This paper aims to examine some of the lessons learnt from the first stage of the Fifth Enlargement and the stricter use of conditionality mechanisms for Romania, Bulgaria and beyond. Design/methodology/approach – The article is based on interviews with EU officials involved in the enlargement process. Findings – The article finds that the use of conditionality in the 2004 enlargement has had a far from uniform effect on candidates and policy areas and that the commission has learnt much from this experience. The integration of Bulgaria and Romania will offer more significant challenges and conditionality has evolved as a mechanism to address these. Originality/value – The article offersboth an empirical as well as theoretical evaluation of the use of conditionality in the context of the EU enlargement process.
Managerial Law – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 1, 2006
Keywords: European Union; Romania; Bulgaria; Size enlargement; Foreign relations
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