Normative Incongruence between the EU Norms and the Albanian Political Elite: Explaining the Limited Effectiveness of EU Democratic Conditionality.pdf

Sokol Lleshi
The political project of integrating into the EU and of 'returning' to Europe after the fall of the communist regimes has been a shared goal of the post-communist countries in East Central Europe, including Albania. The initial waves of enlargement that incorporated the post-authoritarian societies of Spain, Portugal and later Greece buttressed to some extent the legitimacy of the democratic transitions in these countries. Yet, a more coherent and explicit EU policy with regard to enlargement
more » ... rd to enlargement and the coupling of EU integration with certain concrete political, economic and social criteria, known as the Copenhagen criteria, appeared after the regime transitions in post-communist East Central Europe. The Copenhagen criteria became the cornerstone of what is known in the Europeanization literature as the EU conditionality effect relying on a combination of the EU normative 'soft' power and withdrawal of the EU membership promise if prompted by domestic conditions or when necessary. During the latest waves of the EU enlargement in East Central Europe, the EU has been effective in countervailing the authoritarian tendencies in post-communist ECE such as in the case of the Meciar's rule in Slovakia by postponing the reward of full membership and supporting and galvanizing the domestic transformations triggered by the civil society and the political opposition there. In most of the cases the European Union has conceived of the conditionality policy as an effect of the soft power. In this paper I argue that the effect of EU political conditionality in transforming the features of the polity of the Albanian post-communist regime is less effective and successful. A different mechanism of making effective the political conditionality would be more appropriate. Rather than having as main and the only interlocutors the political elite and representative of state institutions, the EU representatives could consider incorporating pertinent local societal actors of the aspiring EU accession country.
doi:10.6084/m9.figshare.13235306.v3 fatcat:ln3g4ssscrccbfqdymcinlyhsa