Assessing the Convergence After Enlargement

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    • Presentation speakers
      • Emanuel Crudu, IMT Insititute for Advanced Studies

    According to the current state of the art, the enlargement proved to be the EU’s most successful instrument of foreign policy. Through incentives attached to the promise of accession, EU managed to exercise significant leverage in securing processes of democratization in Central and Eastern European candidate countries. The EU’s enlargement strategy has had also a ‘lock in’ effect against potential backsliding in the candidate countries thus fostering institutional change, effective political pluralism and alternation in power. The 2004 and 2007 waves of enlargement challenged EU’s ability to face simultaneous widening and deepening of integration. The argument in the current literature goes that through the enlargement strategy, the EU determined the convergence for the new members both in terms of substantive democratization as also in terms of attachment to western democratic values as community making factors. The present study aims to assess such claims in the current post-enlargement environment. While most of the convergence arguments were built within the literature before the effective enlargement took place, there was no post-enlargement follow up yet many assumptions regarding the expected convergence as political dynamic entered the common usage and are now taken for granted. This study, however, traces the rational choice and the sociological constructivist arguments – considered central for the shape such a topic has taken in recent debates – and identifies points where the prophesized convergence is to be questioned. The study argues further that the lack of a complete and substantive convergence will fuel further diversified integration and club based theories of integration. The current crises created an effective laboratory for assessing the convergence hypothesis.