From hierarchical to horizontal Europeanization: assessing twinning and NGO cooperation in Southeast Europe




Crouch, Graeme

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Despite deficient institutional practices, political resistance, and lagging public support for European Union (EU) membership, as well as the presence of two existential EU crises—the euro crisis and migration crisis—, the states of Southeast Europe (SEE) continue to adapt their domestic policies, procedures, legislation, norms and values to the EU’s acquis communautaire—Europeanization. The Europeanization literature explains that such processes of adaption are induced by incentives, and informed by the (limited) ability of each state to negotiate its membership requirements. However, given the degree of political and institutional weakness in SEE, in addition to the EU’s current apathetic stance towards enlargement, this dissertation questions the explanatory power of traditional, hierarchical conceptualizations of Europeanization. It in turn investigates the extent to which the EU and Southeast European candidates (SEECs) have employed new, ‘horizontal’ mechanisms of Europeanization that rely on cooperation, learning, and the co-production of outputs to overcome the technical and strategic problems facing the candidates. Very little work has acknowledged Europeanization outside of the traditional top-down-bottom-up dichotomy, and even less has attempted to specify and investigate the impact of these alternative mechanisms of Europeanization. To address this gap in the literature, this study traces incidents of civil servant cooperation (twinning) and Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) involvement in Croatia and Serbia, and assesses to what degree these mechanisms have helped Croatia and Serbia comply with the acquis. It argues that while the effectiveness of these mechanisms vary due to a number of factors, they have been vital to the accession processes of Croatia and Serbia. These mechanisms have helped align domestic and EU legislation, improved institutional procedures, fostered inter-ministry cooperation, updated policy frameworks, extended state programs to rural and minority populations, and encouraged more systematic public consultation, all of which have been deemed a necessary part of membership preparations. More broadly, these findings suggest a shift in EU-candidate state relations, and demonstrate that a more diverse set of actors and mechanisms are active in Europeanization and governance processes. In candidate states, and indeed even in some member states with weak institutional capacities, tense political environments, and an uncertain public, mechanisms that rely solely on conditionality have varied in their ability to induce domestic compliance. This dissertation contends that horizontal mechanisms that rely on socialization instead of coercion, may present a worthwhile alternative.



Europeanization, Europeanisation, EU, European Union, Croatia, Serbia, Twinning, Horizontal Europeanization, Civil Servants, NGO, CSO