Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 06/2008

EU Accession of Central and Eastern European Countries: Democracy and Integration as Conflicting Logics

January 2002

Finnish Institute for International Affairs


Although the European Union has in many ways promoted democratisation in Central and Eastern Europe, there are several tensions between democracy and integration into the EU of the applicant countries. These tensions are explored in the paper from two perspectives. Firstly, it is argued that the conception of democracy that prevails in the candidate countries – or more specifically, the coupling of democracy with the nation – inevitably implies that integration into the EU restricts democracy. Secondly, the author exposes the norms and principles that dominate the Eastern enlargement – speed, objectivity, efficiency, expertise, competition and inevitability – and argues that these constrain democratic politics and tend to limit enlargement to a narrow sphere of elites and experts. The paper also draws parallels between these two dilemmas and the “democratic deficit” of the EU and discusses the prospects for mitigating the tensions that it highlights.