The MAXCAP Working Paper No. 15 "Measuring Sociopolitical Distances between EU Member States and Candidates: A New Path" by Kaloyan Haralampiev, Georgi Dimitrov and Stoycho P. Stoychev has been published. You can download the Working Paper here.
The next stages of EU integration in terms of deepening or in terms of enlargement imply the need for reliable knowledge about the compatibility of national cases either to enhance cohesion or to promote further Europeanization where it has been lagging so far. This is why measuring the sociopolitical differences between countries experiencing EU integration is a vital premise for maximizing the Union’s capacity for enlargement. The cognitive challenge is to find a way to depict the national societies comprehensively, and in detail, whilst at the same time providing a basis for comparing the different countries. Arguably, the current approach of the European Commission has proved insufficient in providing strong analytical instruments to reflect the specific national contexts and potentials for European integration. In this paper the authors propose a new, complex quantitative approach to the problem based on cluster analysis of the indicators covered by the Open Society Catch Up Index over a period of four years from 2011 to 2014. The result of the analysis is a structural typology that splits the 35 European member and applicant countries into three sociopolitical clusters which do not coincide with the standard formulaic dichotomies regarding older member states (OMS) / new member states (NMS), Western / Eastern European countries and the like. Although the instrument registers some dynamics in time, the clusters remain stable. In order to illustrate the heuristics of the specially devised analytical instrument the authors carry out a comparison among four South-East European societies which are particularly significant from the point of view of the EU’s enlargement policy. A detailed comparison shows that Bulgaria and Romania, which received a special, common conditionality treatment by the EC in the form of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), are typologically similar. Croatia, which was spared the implementation of the CVM, outperforms the other three, while Turkey – which is still negotiating its EU accession – follows a unique development path, diametrically different from the rest. Therefore, the authors provide empirical support for the assumption that the EU should continue implementing a differentiated policy approach to the integration of the South-East European candidates.
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