Does Speed Matter? The Impact of the EU Membership Incentive on Rule Adoption in Minority Rights Legislation

  • Abstract:

    Based on the External Incentives Model of Governance, this hypothesis-testing article seeks to explain how effective the EU membership incentive is on recipient states’ propensity to comply with EU minority rights conditionality. More specifically this is done by examining what impact the temporal distance of the prospective EU membership reward has on the level of adopted legislation in the area of non-discrimination legislation in the recipient states, on track of EU accession. Methodologically, the study is based on a comparative approach, both in terms of the time frame of the analysis, confined to 2003 – 2010, but also in terms of the selection of the recipient states, forming the empirical base. On the basis of the most similar systems design,the states are categorized into three groups according to their temporal distance to the prospective EU membership reward. The hypothesis being tested is: the closer the recipient states are to the prospective EU membership reward, the higher the adaptation pressure, and the more likely the level of adopted legislation would be high. The study shows that the hypothesis is only partly confirmed. The results show that the relationship between temporal distance and level of legislation in non-discrimination has increased significantly during the period studied. This relationship was however only strengthened between the category of states, temporally the furthest away from a potential EU membership and the two categories that are closer or closest to a potential EU membership.