European Union scholars have mostly assessed the institutional impact of Central and Eastern enlargement by placing their analytical focus on the European Commission, the Council of Ministers or the European Parliament. Seldom, European political parties â€“ despite being officially recognized by the Lisbon Treaty as relevant actors for 'representative democracy' in the Union â€“ have constituted their object of analysis. This paper, by considering Euro-parties above all as 'organizations', and treating Central and Eastern enlargement as an 'external shock', seeks to evaluate if enlargement has represented an important factor for the institutional development of the Euro-parties. In particular, by relying on theories of partisan formation and development, posits that Central and Eastern enlargement is likely to have been a significant and positive factor for the structural institutionalization of the Euro-parties. Theoretically, institutionalization is defined as the process by which Euro-parties become more complex or 'bureaucratized', and more autonomous from their national components. Empirically, this paper draws its original material both from the archives of the political Groups in the European Parliament and the central offices of the Euro-parties. This documentary material is also supplemented by about thirty interviews with Euro-party officials and political leaders.
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