Inge Govaere, Erwan Lanon, Peter Van Elsuwege and Stanislas Adam (eds.), The European Union in the World: Essays in Honour of Marc Maresceau (Martinus Nijhoff, 2014, pp.541-555).
16 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2014 Last revised: 7 Mar 2018
Date Written: January 5, 2014
This paper reminds yet again that the practical application of political conditionality does not withstand any criticism, should one try to see a functioning principle of law in this practice. Crucially, following all the recent enlargements, it is clear that conditionality cannot guarantee profound transformation in the crucial areas of state-building and the embrace of the Union’s essential core principles, to what the recent events in Hungary and also Romania abundantly testify. In other words, it is now clear that the countries which had been exposed to the strictest pre-accession political conditionality hailed as a great success by the Commission can easily turn into the weakest links with regard. This concerns precisely the principles which the EU was claiming to promote with all care. In the light of the six crucial drawbacks plaguing the application of the principle – some of which are structural – this does not seem surprising. Although conditionality is now firmly rooted in the core design of EU law, overestimating it can be very dangerous indeed. Especially, it can lead to underestimating the correction mechanisms, like Article 7 EU, which potentially play a crucial role in preserving democratic achievements which conditionality cannot guarantee. Prevention should now, besides being revamped as such, be combined with therapy.
Keywords: Conditionality, values, enlargement, rule of law, EU law
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