The EU in the western Balkans: Enlargement as Empire? A Response to David Chandler
O'Brennan, John (2008) The EU in the western Balkans: Enlargement as Empire? A Response to David Chandler. Global Society, 22 (4). pp. 507-518. ISSN 1360-0826
This article constitutes a response to David Chandler and his conception of the European Union's role in the western Balkans as a contemporary form of empire-building which he argues has deeply compromised the process of democratic institution-building in a still fragile region. It analyses his view that the EU enlargement process is entirely asymmetric in design and process and contends that there is ample room for candidate states both to contest EU demands and shape their own paths toward membership. This is entirely consistent with the evidence from the EU's previous enlargement, its most ambitious to date, which saw ten states from Central and Eastern Europe become members in 2004 and 2007. The EU enlargement regime is thus a tried and tested one and constitutes the most successful instrument in the EU's external relations toolkit. But it is now facing a challenge in the western Balkans that is manifestly more difficult than anything encountered in previous accession contexts. In particular, the problem of first order democratisation, extending to the practice of state-building, remains cogent and, in the fallout from the Kosovan declaration of independence all the more important in regional terms.
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