The New European Union: Integration as a Means of Norm Diffusion

By Slobodchikoff, Michael O. | Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe : JEMIE, January 1, 2010 | Go to article overview

The New European Union: Integration as a Means of Norm Diffusion


Slobodchikoff, Michael O., Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe : JEMIE


Although European shared norms can be identified through the Copenhagen Criteria, few scholars have examined what methods the European Union employs to ensure norm diffusion. This study examines the impact of EU norm diffusion on both member and candidate states. The European Union faces two different situations when it seeks to diffuse norms: targeting candidate states to ensure the adoption of shared European norms or targeting member states to ensure the adoption of specific norms. This paper argues that by utilizing the accession process, the European Union is actually better able to influence candidate states that wish to become members than current member states.

Keywords: EU Member States, Integration, Norm diffusion, EU expansion, Enlargement

Although European shared norms can be identified through the Copenhagen Criteria, few scholars have examined what methods the European Union employs to ensure norm diffusion. This study examines the impact of EU norm diffusion on both member and candidate states. The European Union faces two different situations when it seeks to diffuse norms: targeting candidate states to ensure the adoption of shared European norms or targeting member states to ensure the adoption of specific norms. I argue that by utilizing the accession process, the European Union is actually better able to influence candidate states that wish to become members than current member states. Specifically, I examine the differences between the cases of Latvia and Estonia as well as Romania and Bulgaria to examine different approaches to integration, and which approach works best to achieve norm diffusion.

European integration has commonly been viewed as an extremely important factor in leading to the peace and stability of Europe (see Diez et al., 2006; Higashino, 2004; Wallensteen, 2002). Prior studies of European integration have determined that one of the original goals of the European Community was to achieve lasting peace in Western Europe after World War II, and more specifically to develop a lasting resolution to the Franco-German conflict (see Wallensteen, 2002). The European Community did help to lessen the tensions between France and Germany through economic interdependence and spillover effects, and this success helped to bolster the idea that further integration was necessary to achieve peace and stability in Europe. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, former Communist countries in Europe became independent, but were unstable. Thus, scholars argued that Europe would achieve lasting peace and stability by further integration to the east (see Higashino, 2004).

Once the European Union became fully established, norm diffusion emerged as one of the most effective ways in which integration could bring about peace and stability. This is due to the fact that as states adopt European norms, specifically those of freedom of movement, uncorrupt governments, a single market, and strong human rights, states become more democratic, which in turn leads to peace and stability (e.g. see Russett, 1993; Hensel, Goertz and Diehl, 2000). Thus, the European Union uses integration as a means of norm diffusion (e.g. see Tocci et al., 2008; Noutcheva, 2007; Noutcheva et al., 2004). The use of norm diffusion is especially prevalent in the post Cold War period, as the European Union began to focus on creating not just a stable and peaceful Europe, but a stable and peaceful Europe with a shared identity possessing similar norms. Although several treaties of the European Union mention shared norms related to human rights and the common market, it was not until the Copenhagen Criteria were agreed upon in 1993 that European norms related to democracy and human rights were specifically articulated (see Tocci et al., 2008). This paper specifically focuses on those shared European norms articulated in the Copenhagen Criteria that must be adopted by all candidate states prior to accession. …

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