Why the Promotion of the Acquis is Not the Same as the Promotion of Democracy and What Can Be Done in Order to Also Promote Democracy Instead of Just Promoting the Acquis
Hanse Law Review, Vol. 2, No. 2, 2006, pp. 169-195.
25 Pages Posted: 27 Dec 2006 Last revised: 7 Mar 2018
Date Written: 2006
This article argues that the Commission's pre-accession Regular Reporting, as applied in the course of the preparation of the Eastern enlargement of the European Union, appears to be not the general check of the state of democracy, human rights and the Rule of Law in the candidate countries (as was announced by the EU and clarified in the Copenhagen criteria), but, almost exclusively, the check of the acquis transposition in the candidate countries. This is notwithstanding the fact that the acquis is clearly insufficient a tool for the check of democracy and human rights. Moreover, the acquis played a key-role in the assessment of all the elements of the Copenhagen criteria. Also, from the analysis of application of the Copenhagen-related documents it follows that the elements of the Copenhagen criterion of democracy, the Rule of Law and protection of human rights seem de facto to be placed in a hierarchical order of importance, which is reflected in the types of the pre-accession influence tools the EU applies to the elements of the Copenhagen political criteria and is also dependent on whether a certain issue falls within the scope of the acquis or not. Surprisingly, there appears to be no expected correlation between the application of different pre-accession influence tools and the concrete results in the field of promotion of democratic reform; at the same time, whether an issue is part of the acquis or not obviously influences the candidate countries' willingness to follow the Union's recommendations in conducting reforms. The article calls for a change of approach to the application of the preaccession conditionality in the fields of democracy, the Rule of Law and human rights protection in the course of the enlargements to come.
Keywords: EU law, EU enlargement, conditionality, pre-accession, Copenhagen criteria, Copenhagen-related documents, rule of law, democracy promotion, Eastern Europe, law reform
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