The EU: Promoting Liberal-Democracy through Membership Conditionality

  • Frank Schimmelfennig


The European Union (EU) primarily uses a strategy of political conditionality to promote liberal-democracy in Central and Eastern Europe. In the theoretical terminology of this volume, this is a strategy based on social influence or reinforcement rather than persuasion. In this chapter, I will describe the EU socialization policy more precisely as intergovernmental reinforcement by material rewards. EU socialization efforts are primarily directed at governments; the EU offers them material rewards such as assistance and the benefits from EU membership on the condition that they comply with the norms of liberal-democracy If they do not, the EU simply withholds the reward; it neither inflicts extra punishment on the non-compliant countries, nor does it support them with extra assistance to change their cost-benefit relationships. I attribute this low-cost, material socialization strategy to the predominantly economic capabilities of the EU and its low vulnerability vis-à-vis the Central and Eastern European countries (CEECs).


European Union Civil Liberty Socialization Agency Candidate Country Target Country 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

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  • Frank Schimmelfennig

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