A presentation given by Research Fellow Cristina Parau at Wolfson College on February 24th 2009. Dr Parau is also a member of the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies in Oxford.
Europeanization scholars study the impact of the European Union (EU) on domestic politics. The literature on the impact of the EU on the domestic politics of accession countries in Eastern Europe has focussed too narrowly on the formal conditions for accession to the EU stemming from Brussels. Accession conditionality and the EU body of legislation (the acquis) which the accession countries must adopt have been claimed to be the drivers of domestic change. Research has omitted the class of phenomena where no real EU rule exists yet domestic change happens as if there were, or where an EU rule does exist yet has little or no impact. This paper examines several cases of such phenomena. It reveals how transnational networks outside Brussels, but with help from inside, were able to (re-)construct accession conditionality amid the wider enlargement context. Some networks, by heightening its uncertainty and 'accession anxiety', made the accession candidate government constrain itself before a phantom 'extra-conditionality' where virtually no EU acquis existed and Brussels declined formal intervention; others emboldened it to defy real conditionality where the acquis commanded obedience and Brussels intervened forcefully. When uncertainty and anxiety are high, an accession candidate will be susceptible to irrational influence, as of an objectively unreal conditionality; whereas, when uncertainty and anxiety are low, the candidate may even get away with flouting real conditionality.