Academic journal article European Quarterly of Political Attitudes and Mentalities

7 from Authoritarianism to Europeanization? Paths to a Contestable European Future in Greece and Poland

Academic journal article European Quarterly of Political Attitudes and Mentalities

7 from Authoritarianism to Europeanization? Paths to a Contestable European Future in Greece and Poland

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Situating Greece and Poland in a comparative perspective that explores the links between domestic politics, accession processes, and Europeanization, this paper explicates different Europeanization paths in two significant cases of the Southern and the Eastern enlargement. It focuses on interactions between regime transformation, interest politics and accession processes. The interactions in question involve (a) influences of politics, institutional traditions and interests on the formation of the applicant states' European strategy and (b) interactions between processes of integration and organized interests and domestic contestation. Interactions work in the context of more general Europeanization processes, which concern adaptation, adjustment, impact and feedback, beginning in anticipation of membership and expanding to more synchronized if still asymmetrical developments during later stages of full membership.

In this paper, Europeanization is conceived as a non-teleological process, which involves a combination of contingent choices, path dependency and critical interactions between different and often asymmetrical national contexts, the domestic politics of which mediate the forms and the effects of Europeanization (Lavdas, 1997). Especially since the Copenhagen European Council in 1993, the EU had been expected to use its softpower and normative projection to attract and - through economic and political conditionality - help reshape the political economies of former Eastern European states, thereby interacting and possibly transforming the original, national strategies of accession. In this process, the extent to which the alleged misfit/mismatch between a state's features and the EU (Börzel and Risse, 2000) acquired a greater relevance. Europeanization is therefore best approached as a long-term process which includes early phases of interaction between applicant member states and EC/EU institutions and processes. We suggest that one of the main aims of Europeanization analysis would be to specify conditions that facilitate or hinder the empowerment of domestic actors, including interest groups.

Looking at groups of national contexts provides us with a promising start, provided that we do not necessarily start from the geographically or culturally 'obvious' groupings: for example, depending on the particular focus and the research question, looking at 'Southern Europe' might be a promising start or it might be seriously misleading. In what follows, the comparative perspective will involve a different grouping of cases and the aim will be to explore interactions between domestic interest politics and the process of Europeanization trying to avoid projecting backwards issues and fields of debates of the last couple of decades. This is particularly important when asking questions such as 'why join the EC?' or 'what were the main factors defining a state's European strategy' (see below for an attempt to define the latter). For example, issues of redistribution - which have been important for some time and are obviously crucial in determining the formation of European strategies by states which hope to be the beneficiaries of structural aid - are of little import when attempting to explain Ireland's accession (1973) or Greece's early (1960s) attempts at associate and full membership.

2. Interest Politics, EC/EU Accession and Europeanization

Turning to interest politics and their interactions with Europeanization, we can single out three distinct hypotheses. According to Lieber (1970; 1974), the neofunctionalist hypothesis leads us to expect that interest group involvement will enhance the prospects of integration, while what he calls 'the interest group hypothesis' would lead us to expect that interest group involvement will politicize the issues and decrease the chances of integration. The problem, however, is that to make sense of the heuristic possibilities of this we need to differentiate between interest groups. …

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