European Union Policies toward Accession Countries
The Union’s recent jumbo-enlargement concluded a decade or more of rigorous preparations during which the countries of Central and Eastern Europe were pursuing a moving target. Despite some candidates’ tough negotiating positions on issues such as agricultural subsidies, land sales, and visa policies, the EU was able to set the preaccession conditions largely unilaterally. This was due to the asymmetric interdependence between candidates and the EU in which each candidate stood to gain disproportionately from accession (and lose by nonaccession) compared with the benefits accruing to the EU as a whole. As the EU took its time to commit to an accession date, candidates grew less and less patient with fulfilling unilateral conditions when the benefits seemed to become intangible. Nevertheless, governments of both the left and the right remained committed to the reforms stipulated by the EU, even though they regularly paid for this commitment by not being reelected. Government elites, it appears, were willing to set aside shortterm electoral considerations for the expected long-term benefits of EU membership and/or domestic reform. Where this was not the case, the EU responded with delayed entry—witness the pressure on Slovakia under Meciar and on Romania up to the present.
KeywordsCandidate Country Accession Country EUROPEAN Union Policy Visa Policy Legal Harmonization
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