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Why Being Democratic is Just Not Enough: The EU’s Governance Transfer

Van Hullen, Vera and Borzel, Tanja A. (2015) Why Being Democratic is Just Not Enough: The EU’s Governance Transfer. [Conference Proceedings] (Submitted)

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    The European Union (EU) is a promoter and protector of ‘good governance’ par excellence. The Europeanization of its member states and attempts at external governance transfer towards third countries have earned the EU the name of a ‘transformative’ or ‘normative’ power (cf. Börzel and Risse 2009; Manners 2006). Yet, in comparison with other regional organizations, the EU has focused on the transformation of domestic governance institutions beyond rather than within its borders. Only recently, has the EU begun to develop policies and instruments that explicitly aim at protecting the very norms and values within its own member states that it has sought to transfer to accession candidates, neighbourhood countries and third states. Not only has the emergence of a comprehensive policy for internal governance transfer lagged behind the establishment of the EU’s external policy by ten years. It is also much weaker than the EU’s rhetoric and its practice of external governance transfer would suggest. This is all the more puzzling since problems with democratic pluralism, the independence of the judiciary, or minority rights, in both old and new member states, question the extent to which the EU has been effective in promoting and protecting governance standards internally. In order to explain the late and rather weak engagement of the EU in internal governance transfer, we argue that the demand only arose with the prospect of the EU’s Eastern enlargement. As a ‘club of democracies’, the EU did not see the need for internal governance transfer for the longest time. Alternative mechanisms, provided internally by infringement 255 proceedings and other instruments at the disposal of the European Commission and externally by the Council of Europe (CoE), were sufficient to protect the ‘community of values’ of the EU in its early years. It was the impending accession of a large number of new and potentially unstable democracies that created the initial demand for formal provisions to protect standards of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in the EU. In particular, member states adopted Article 7 of the Amsterdam Treaty to lock in domestic changes in post-communist countries after their accession to the EU and thereby created specific post-accession instruments. In addition, the diffusion of governance transfer by regional organizations in the 1990s provided a supply for modelling the EU’s democracy clause and for finally adopting its own Fundamental Rights Charter. Yet, the EU’s provisions for internal governance transfer are much weaker compared to other regional organizations, reflecting the old member states’ unwillingness to grant the EU powers to interfere with issues at the core of their political sovereignty. The second part of the chapter will outline the puzzle of the EU’s delayed and weak internal governance transfer. Since the late 1990s, the EU has institutionalized a number of provisions for protecting democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and good governance in member states. However, lacking systematic monitoring and enforcement mechanisms beyond the ‘nuclear option’ or Article 7 and the protection of fundamental rights in the implementation of EU law by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), they seem to be symbolic rather than effective instruments. The third part explains the delayed establishment and weak institutional design of the EU’s internal governance transfer by the functional demand for locking in democratic changes in the new members and the normative concern for the EU’s international legitimacy as a normative power, on the one hand, and the reluctance of old member states to have the EU interfere with their sovereignty over issues of democracy and human rights, on the other. Moreover, regional integration by law has provided the EU with alternative policies and instruments to protect its fundamental values in the member states.

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    Item Type: Conference Proceedings
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > political affairs > governance: EU & national level
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Conference: European Union Studies Association (EUSA) > Biennial Conference > 2015 (14th), March 4-7, 2015
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2018 15:18
    Number of Pages: 18
    Last Modified: 06 Mar 2018 15:18

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