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Beyond Top-down and Bottom-up Approaches: Explaining Policy Implementation in the EU Accession Process

Gentian Elezi

Policy implementation is a vast area of study. After the first theoretical works in the 70’, it was further developed under two main approaches: top-down and bottom-up. Despite the fact that these two main strategies of explanation have been used broadly in the field, they are challenged when it comes to EU accession process of post communist countries, such as Albania. Both models fail to capture an integrated picture of the implementation process in this case, and they rather give separate and inconclusive frames of explanation. In this paper, I argue about a new approach on explaining policy implementation, which derives from an inductive work on the Albanian accession process. Although different authors have tried to create a mixed approach, including both models, I argue that this process can be explained by new modes of governance based on multilevel characteristics, rather than by rigid theories which were developed mainly with reference to domestic policy implementation without external interference. Understanding interaction patterns between different actors in different levels of governance, nationally and internationally, can offer in-depth explanation about implementation performance and, consequently, the trajectory of the accession process towards EU membership.

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