Title

European Union membership conditionality: the Copenhagen criteria and the quality of democracy

Publication Date

1-1-2020

Document Type

Article

Department

Political Science

Publication Title

Journal of Southeast European and Black Sea

Volume

20

Issue

4

DOI

10.1080/14683857.2020.1805889

First Page

525

Last Page

545

Abstract

The European Union has been praised for successfully promoting democracy through its political accession conditionality by incentivizing Central and Eastern European countries to establish stable democratic institutions and improve their human rights practices. However, recent democratic downturns in the region have brought into question the quality and longevity of democracy that the Union promotes. By tracing political developments and progress towards satisfying European Union membership requirements in two countries currently engaged in accession negotiations, Montenegro and Serbia, I find that the European Union’s standards of democracy fall short of requiring stable democratic institutions and long-term successes in producing political systems that respect and protect human rights, the rights of minorities, the rule of law, and fundamental freedoms. Instead of requiring prospective member states to comply with accession criteria, the European Union is allowing them to progress along the integration path with only partial compliance, weakening its own ability to induce meaningful reforms.

Keywords

Copenhagen criteria, democratization, European Union enlargement, Montenegro, Serbia

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