Challenges of Rule of Law Conditionality in EU Accession
Keywords:EU, Rule of Law, Rule of Law Conditionality, EU Accession, Western Balkan countries, effectiveness, coherence
EU enlargement process towards the Western Balkan countries has been in place since the 2003 Thessaloniki summit. However, the expected democratic transformation and fostering of the rule of law values have not become a reality, while rule of law conditionality has been criticized as ineffective in achieving its goals. In parallel, the EU has been struggling with rule of law backsliding internally, and, in order to tackle this issue, has developed a multitude of instruments that have so far had limited effects on internal rule of law promotion. The paper supports the idea that there is a need for approximation of the rule of law standards in the EU’s internal and accession policies. After providing a bird’s-eye-view of the position of the rule of law in EU accession negotiations with WB countries, the authors go on to elaborate on the four major causes contributing to the EU’s lack of effectiveness and coherence in the WB accession process. In doing so, the authors provide recommendations on how to improve the convergence between internal and accession rule of law policies and foster a common understanding of the rule of law as a core pre-and post-accession value in the EU.
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