This chapter examines the main phases of the European Union’s enlargement policy process—association, pre-accession, and accession—and the key decisions involved in each of these stages. It discusses how these decisions are made, and how policy practice has evolved over time. The chapter then explores enlargement as a tool of foreign policy and external governance. It discusses the development of the EU’s accession conditionality as an instrument to influence domestic change in candidate countries and why conditionality appears to have become less effective after the 2007 enlargement round, including the impact of the EU’s ‘enlargement fatigue’ and manifestations of ‘democratic backsliding’ among new member states.
Widening Membership, Transforming Would-be Members?
The chapter analyses the Bulgarian experience of Europeanization: its achievements, weaknesses, and patterns of convergence with EU norms and rules. The chapter is structured in four parts. First, it offers a brief historical overview of Bulgarian accession to the EU. Secondly, the impact of EU membership on public opinion and political parties is evaluated. The third part presents the impact of EU membership on Bulgarian political institutions and governance. Finally, a brief comparison is offered with the Romanian experience of Europeanization. The underlying argument is that the process of Europeanization has been a slow one.