The MAXCAP Working Paper No. 19 "Larger and More Law Abiding? The Impact of Enlargement on Compliance in the European Union" by Tanja A. Börzel und Ulrich Sedelmeier has been published. You can download the Working Paper here.
Research on European integration tends to assume that a larger membership weakens the legal system of the European Union through growing non-compliance with EU law. The main compliance theories expect this negative impact to be particularly salient if enlargement adds new members that are big, poor, Eurosceptic, or have inefficient bureaucracies. Against these expectations, this paper shows that enlargement has not led to a deterioration of compliance in the larger EU. In three of the EU’s four enlargement rounds, the new member states comply better with EU law than the old member states. Only the Southern enlargement of the 1980s led to a substantial increase in non-compliance. Particularly surprising for the main theories of compliance is the good compliance of the post-communist new member states in the Eastern enlargement in the mid-2000s and the variation between the Southern and Eastern enlargement. This paper suggests that the use of pre-accession conditionality for the Eastern enlargement explains why these new members perform better than their Southern counterparts despite equally unfavourable country-level characteristics, such as low administrative capacities and high costs of compliance with EU law.
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