Jean Monnet Chair: Dr Milenko Petrovic

Postcommunist Transition under the Umbrella of Uneven Europeanisation:
East Central Europe, the Baltic States and the Balkans

A quarter century after the collapse of East European communism, there is little doubt that the simultaneous transitions from communist dictatorship to multiparty democracy, and from a command economy to a market economy, have been successful (or relatively successful) almost exclusively in those states which were able to tie their post-communist reforms to the European Union’s conditional offer of membership. Looking at the uneven outcomes of post-communist transition in the three groups of states to whom the EU’s accession opportunity was offered already in the early 1990s, this project investigates the reasons why this opportunity has not been used with the same effectiveness in all of these groups. In addition to the often emphasised role of structural-historical factors in explaining the Balkan states’ slower progress with post-communist reform and EU accession in comparison to the countries of East Central Europe (ECE) and the Baltics, this research focuses on the importance of ‘practical policy’ measures and agent-driven actions for causing these post-communist regional differences. Among the latter, the NZ and Western Balkan members of the Chair’s team particular attention will pay to the investigation of the effects of poor decisions made by the Balkan domestic political elites who did not express a strong desire for reform or closer relations with the EU during the 1990s and of the emergence of enlargement fatigue in the old EU member states in the mid-2000s and the tightened accession conditions for the post- 2004/07 candidate for EU membership.

This research will also intend to provide the answers to the following research questions:

1. What are the main current challenges and limits to further EU enlargement and the European integration project?
2. Where are the final borders of EU enlargement?