The European Union and Democratization

By Paul J. Kubicek | Go to book overview

9

Conclusion

The European Union and democracy promotion

Paul J. Kubicek

In recent years, the European Union has emerged as an important actor in world politics, one with a very ambitious agenda. The EU has introduced a common currency, is considering a variety of institutional reforms, and is developing a military capability. However, by far its largest project is expansion to its east and south, with thirteen candidate countries approved at the December 1999 Helsinki Summit. According to the communiqué from that gathering, democracy promotion is to be an integral component of the EU's enlargement strategy. In other words, shaping other states' domestic politics is now a task of the EU, and it has, on occasion, used an array of political and economic blandishments and threats to press its democratization agenda. Moreover, as seen in the cases of Croatia, Ukraine, and Morocco, democracy is a EU concern (at least at the rhetorical level) even in those states not in the queue for membership.

Despite this turn in policy, the EU's role in democracy promotion remains, in Whitehead's words, "undertheorized" and subject of "scant attention." 1 Of course, the same could be said of the general issue of external promotion of democracy, although this topic has received treatment by some authors in the academic literature. 2 Unfortunately, however, there has been little effort to test hypotheses across a variety of countries in order to understand under what conditions democracy promotion by external actors is more likely to be successful.

This volume has aimed to fill this gap in the literature. There are, of course, a variety of issues relating to EU enlargement - e.g. financial costs, loss of national sovereignty, public opposition or support for ascension to the EU - but our focus has been on the connection between EU expansion (or, in Croatia, Ukraine, and Morocco, EU initiatives that do not include any promise of expansion) and political change in a given state's domestic political arena. Of course, this is a complex topic, and it is often difficult to disentangle and identify particular "causes" of democratization or the failure to democratize. However, these difficulties have not stopped some analysts - and EU officials - from celebrating past EU "success" in promoting democracy in Southern Europe. More recently, the EU has been lauded for its work in Eastern Europe, and indeed one sees that those states in the front of

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