Minority protection entered into the corpus of a shared "idea of Europe" with the Copenhagen Council of 1993. Since, the EU rigour on minority protection has varied across member-states and applicant states as well as across applicant states. The present paper critically analysis the causes for this variation and, in particular, for the gap between the EU objective for minority protection conditionality in the context of enlargement and the policy outcomes through a comparison of internal and external strategies of the EU. In keeping with the standard driven international society paradigm of the English School of International Relations, the paper suggest that the EU minority protection conditionality is, in effect, a gate-keeping instrument which is utilised to include or exclude aspirant states on the basis of their perceived proximity to an underlying discursive understanding of the "idea of Europe".
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