European Union Negotiations: Processes, Networks and Institutions

By Ole Elgström; Christer Jönsson | Go to book overview
Save to active project


Breaking the waves

The European Union's enlargement negotiations with EFTA and central and eastern Europe

Lykke Friis

Introduction: the more the messier?

Enlargement of the European Union, with the exception of Greece in 1981, has always taken place in waves. Several countries negotiate in parallel and join at the same time. Indeed, in late 2002 the European Union concluded accession negotiations with a record high of ten countries.

Despite the recurrent tendency to enlarge in waves, empirical studies and theoretical conceptualizations are almost silent on how the various negotiations affect each other. Often accession negotiations are looked upon as a bilateral exercise between, for instance, Sweden and the European Union. This coincides with the EU's official rhetoric, which is repeated again and again in European Council conclusions: applicants are negotiating on their own; the vanguard of the group will not have to wait for the rearguard.

Just from the mantra of international negotiation theory - 'the more the messier' and 'two's company and more's a crowd' - one would imagine that size matters (Midgaard and Underdal 1977; Winham 1977; Zartman 1994). Although multilateral negotiation theory is still rather undeveloped, scholars share the view that the overarching characteristic of multilateral negotiations is complexity. Consequently, scholars focus on how negotiators can limit the complexity to make it manageable for negotiations (Zartmann 1994:3). As a preliminary hypothesis we will therefore expect that the European Union will have a clear interest in linking the various accession negotiation tables together in order to ease the negotiations and hence influence the final outcome.

To be sure, EU accession negotiations are not strictly multilateral. Nor are they classical bilateral negotiations, but rather a mixture of the two. On the one hand, accession negotiations have a clear bilateral dimension, in the sense that the negotiations do not take place around a big table with all candidates present. All applicants travel to Brussels individually and negotiate with the European Union without any other applicant present.

On the other hand, negotiations are also endowed with a multilateral dimension. After all, the European Union has launched a negotiation process with several countries with the aim of reaching one single goal: EU enlargement. Moreover, the negotiations are conducted in parallel.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
European Union Negotiations: Processes, Networks and Institutions


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 228

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?