How the European Union interacts with political competition in Eastern Partnership countries
Studia Europaea, 62 1 2017, 141-160
In the debate about the European Neighbourhood Policy, two positions may be distinguished: those who propose a stricter and more consistent use of democratic conditionality, prioritizing democracy over other EU objectives – and those who refuse to set compliance with democratic standards as a precondition for support, expecting democracy to emerge from closer linkages. The paper argues that both positions do not sufficiently recognize the selective effectiveness of EU conditionality. Democracy conditions can become effective if (1) dense societal, economic and cultural ties with the EU support their domestic acceptance and (2) ruling political elites are faced with a competitive opposition.