Explaining European Union engagement with potential new member states

Simmons, Peter James (2015) Explaining European Union engagement with potential new member states. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This is a comparative study which asked the central research question of whether domestic conditions or the European Union’s policy approach best explained whether the EU was able to engage with potential new member states. Three cases of post-Communist states in the EU’s immediate neighbourhood were studied: Poland, Croatia and Ukraine, over the time period 1990 to 2013. The interplay between external and domestic factors was studied in terms of the policy approach employed by the EU, the receptiveness of political elites to EU influence, and the level of pro-EU civil society activity. The evidence from this study seems to suggest that the EU policy approach was successful with potential member states in Central and Eastern Europe, such as Poland, although the problem of democratic backsliding post-accession later emerged, to which the EU had no immediate policy approach. The EU’s policy approach in the Western Balkans appears to have had some success, seen in the case of Croatia, but it is unclear whether this success will be replicated in the more problematic cases, such as Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. The EU’s policy approach through its European Neighbourhood Policy has not been successful in the East, exemplified in the case of Ukraine. Domestic factors, and in particular the receptivity of the political elite to EU influence, appear to remain the most important in explaining whether the EU is able to engage with potential new member states. The EU’s policy approach to engaging with pro-EU civil society does not appear to be successful, at least in the short to medium term. It is argued that the EU needs to develop a more flexible policy approach in order to be better able to take advantage of ‘windows of opportunity’ that arise. In addition, the EU should enhance its policy approach to co-ordinate its efforts more closely with other relevant external actors.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Politics
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN0030 European Union. European Community. European communities
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2015 12:37
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2015 13:40
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/53524

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