Promoting Women's Rights: The Politics of Gender in the European Union

By Chrystalla A. Ellina | Go to book overview

Chapter 5

The Influence of International Institutions on National Gender Policy: The Case of Cyprus

WHILE CHAPTER 4 EXAMINED THE INFLUENCE OF SUPRANATIONAL institutions on the equality policy of member states, chapter 5 concentrates on the influence of the EU and other international institutions on countries aspiring to join the European Union (EU). I will focus on the case of Cyprus, which applied for EU membership on July 4, 1990 and, together with five other countries from Eastern and Central Europe, commenced its accession negotiations on March 31, 1998. 1 Cyprus is the only country among the six "first-wave" applicants that did not belong to the ex-Communist bloc and whose market economy is more closely aligned with those of the EU member states. Given its British colonial past, its Greek heritage and close relationship with Greece, conditions in Cyprus also closely resemble the legal and social conditions found in at least two of the EU member states. However, in terms of de jure and de facto gender equality policy, Cyprus lags far behind EU policy. I will argue that the prospect of EU accession can act as a strong catalyst for modifying social policies, in general, and gender equality policies, in particular, even in candidate countries that are resistant to change. I demonstrate that supranational institutions can become external agents of change and play a progressive role in reshaping social policy in countries applying for membership.

Intergovernmentalist assumptions regarding the primacy of the state and the instrumentality of institutions are problematic in the case of candidate countries accepting supranational policy developed without their participation: "When you are in the EU, you obviously take part in the framing

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