The Effectiveness of the Policy of Conditionality as the Main Instrument for Democratization in Candidate Countries. The Experience with Bulgaria and Romania.

Anna Plachkova

The accession to the EU of the applicant countries is assumed to be a major path for their stable and irreversible democratization since the Copenhagen criteria explicitly state that democracy is the very first among these criteria. Yet in recent years the political science shifts it's attention from formal/procedural understanding of democracy (regular and fair elections) to the more subtle aspects of quality of democracy (Morlino 2014; Perino 2014; Staykova 2014; Todorov 2014; Galabov 2014). In this regard the Europeanization of the New Member States is questioned - does the sustained procedures of democratic voting guarantee accountable governance (Agh 2015). More to that, in the literature on Europeanization Bulgaria and Romania are usually considered as specific sub-group of the CEECs. This is not due to the fact that both acceded to the EU in 2007, but due to the specific socio-economic and political features of those countries, which are also the reason why the majority of the problems related to the quality of the democracy and the rule of law continue to exist there even almost 10 years later. This article tests the relevance of the conceptual framework provided by the literature on Europeanization with its major stake on the impact of EU political conditionality upon effective democracy in Bulgaria and Romania. The principle of conditionality - one of the key components of the EU's strategy in post-communist Central and Eastern Europe - is widely acknowledged to be the driving force behind the process of enlargement-led Europeanisation. By presenting a critical approach to the pre-accession conditionality and conceptualizing the recent developments in both countries it is argued that the formal adaptation of rules could even be more detrimental for the democracy in the countries where the ultimate goal is the membership at any cost.

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