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Political Science in Europe

Rule Imposition or Development? Understanding EU Goals and Means of Managing Economic and Regulatory Integration During Enlargement

Europe (Central and Eastern)
European Union
Julia Langbein
Freie Universität Berlin
Julia Langbein
Freie Universität Berlin
Laszlo Bruszt
European University Institute

This paper develops an argument to explain EU modes of integrating countries from the (semi)periphery in transnational European markets during the 2004-2007 enlargement. The literature on EU enlargement usually assumes that the EU imposed non-negotiable EU policies and rules on the Central and East European economies through conditionality, assistance for rule compliance as well as meritocratic monitoring. By contrast, this paper argues that the EU has combined market making (via rule imposition) with creating or upgrading transnational and domestic capacities to identify a developmental strategy that would – ideally – help to detect and decrease potential negative externalities of enlargement, such as the prevention of large scale marginalization and social and economic exclusion in the new member states. Domestic factors certainly mediate the EU’s effectiveness in managing these negative externalities. Still, our refined concept of EU integration as a development program offers a fresh view on the question why some countries or sectors are better off than others in terms of competitiveness and social inclusion. From a comparative perspective our concept of EU modes of integration can travel beyond the 2004-2007 enlargement to the Western Balkans as well as to the neighbourhood to explain divergent developmental outcomes.
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