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ECPR Virtual General Conference 2020

Large-Scale Economic Transformations in Central and Eastern Europe: Is there a Post-Accession Effect?

Europe (Central and Eastern)
Political Economy
European Union
Esther Ademmer
University of Kiel
Esther Ademmer
University of Kiel

This paper addresses the question of whether and how the successful accession to the European Union impacted the large-scale economic transformation of Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs). Drawing on the enlargement literature that found a substantial lock-in effect for compliance with neatly defined EU law after accession, we seek to investigate whether a similar effect is noticeable for the CEECs’ macroeconomic policies. We hypothesize that the disappearance of accession conditionality might have relaxed the pressure to adhere to macroeconomic stability as broadly defined by the Copenhagen Criteria and specified by the Commission’s accession monitoring. In order to detect whether or not the EU accession process locked-in CEECs’ economic policy-making, we analyze the de jure regulation and de facto performance of EU member states’ economies over time. Multivariate analyses are conducted to compare the so-called Dependent Market Economies (DMEs) of Eastern Europe with the old member states in this respect. We seek to explain the similarities and differences in their post-accession performance by scrutinizing the impact of ideological positions and the strength of the political leadership vis à vis social partners. The paper shall contribute to a discussion of the broader economic impact of EU membership and evaluate its wider implications for the interaction of the state and the society.
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