Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Politics

The Macedonian Equitable Representation vs. Public Administration Reform: The Lack of Interaction between Eu Accession Requirements

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Politics

The Macedonian Equitable Representation vs. Public Administration Reform: The Lack of Interaction between Eu Accession Requirements

Article excerpt

The paper discusses the problem of lack of interaction between different EU accession requirements as an intrinsic feature of the EU external governance that impacts the quality of the Europeanisation outcomes in the candidate countries. It takes the Macedonian equitable representation policy of the smaller ethnic communities as a case study, and discusses its interplay with the requirement on Public Administration reform. On the basis of a qualitative analysis of the EU Progress Reports and a desktop research on the implementation of the equitable representation policy vis-à-vis the Public Administration reform, the paper infers that the EU approach seriously fails in linking these interrelated accession requirements. This contributes to overlooking the real roots of the problems, and additionally reflects on the lack of clear guidelines and recommendations for the candidates. Thus, EU fails to establish a right 'diagnosis' and 'therapy' for the country, which leads to suboptimal Europeanisation outcomes.

Key words: EU external governance; Macedonia; Ohrid Framework Agreement; Policy on Equitable Representation; Public Administration Reform.

1 INTRODUCTION

The Europeanisation of the candidate countries has been established as an independent research discipline focused on the European Union (EU) external governance as one of the crucial factors in the candidate countries' democratic and economic reformation. In spite of the initial enthusiasm with regard to the EU's transformational power, the research eventually has become more interested in the limitations of the Europeanisation process. These limitations come to the surface mostly in those policy areas that lack a clear legal basis in the EU acquis. They are often manifested as suboptimal policy/institutional solutions implemented by the candidate countries. In this context, the paper recognizes the lack of interaction between different accession requirements as a serious intrinsic shortcoming of the EU external governance, responsible for the suboptimal Europeanisation outcomes. It departures from the assumption that in policy areas where the EU accession conditionality stands on 'shaky' legal basis, and lacks clear policy/institutional models, the interaction of different, but interrelated accession criteria is an important factor in providing clear guidelines for the candidate country's reform.

This problem, although recognized in the Europeanisation literature, has not been researched extensively. Moreover, it has been completely underplayed in the research of the Western Balkans (WB), a region offering a more complicated context than the Central Eastern European (CEE) enlargement. The WB's complexity does not only imply a lack of clear membership prospect, but also unresolved statehood issues and disputes with neighbours; vivid memory of military conflicts; security challenges; ethnically heterogeneous population; all of which lead to a new, more demanding conditionality. This new conditionality not only lacks a legal basis in the acquis, but the EU, as an actor responsible for the monitoring and guidance of the process, lacks the appropriate experience, due to the absence of these problems at the previous enlargements. Thus, the capacity of the EU to provide as clear and detailed language as possible in its documents (the Accession Partnership and the yearly Progress Reports) in order to fill the legal gap is challenged.

The paper's hypothesis is that the EU does not provide clear guidelines for the candidate countries, due to a lack of interaction between different, but interrelated accession criteria. This contributes to the emergence of suboptimal policy and institutional outcomes implemented within the candidate countries.

The Macedonian policy on equitable representation of the smaller ethnic communities is taken as a case study, and is discussed from the aspect of its interplay with the requirement on Public Administration reform (PA). …

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