We would like to present to our readers the book ‘Democratizing Central and Eastern Europe: Successes and Failures of the European Union‘ by Luca Tomini, which is the result of Tomini’s PhD dissertation that began in Florence and continued in Brussels.
As the author says in the introduction, the intention of this book is to reassess ‘the results of the democratization processes in Central and Eastern Europe, and at the same time investigate the nature and effectiveness of the Europeanization process’.
Tomini’s indicates that the starting point of the book is the recognition of an apparent paradox. At first, it was believed that accession to the EU would have a positive effect on the process of democratization in former communist countries and European integration was believed to be the most realistic option for the democratic and economic development of the region. However, over time it became clear that difficulties with the democratic system endured in a number of these countries and, despite EU accession, several obstacles still hinder the regular functioning of the democratic systems in Central and Eastern Europe: corruption, conflicts of interest, abuses of power, and the concentration of power into the hands of the executive.
In this work, Tomini reconsiders the results of the process of democratization in Central and Eastern Europe and evaluates the nature and effectiveness of the Europeanization process. It explores the process of democratic consolidation and accession to the European Union in Poland, Slovakia and Bulgaria in a comparative perspective. Using these three case studies, the book assesses the impact of the EU on the accountability and integrity of governments in this part of Europe.
The book is divided into six chapters, followed by a chapter with conclusions.
- Chapter one covers the literature on the theory of democracy, democratization and Europeanization, providing the theoretical basis for this research.
- Chapter two addresses the empirical reality of democratic consolidation in Central Europe and Eastern Europe, focusing on domestic factors, paths and outcomes.
- Chapter three presents the role of the European Union in the region with regard to democratization, focusing on the strategies and tools of influence, as well as on its limits.
- Chapter four concerns the interinstitutional accountability of governments.
- Chapter five deals with the dimension of integrity.
- Chapter six takes stock of the two complimentary processes of consolidation and Europeanization (national paths and European pressures), demonstrating the results of this interaction on the dimension of accountability and integrity.
The research presented in this book was based on many different sources, including interviews conducted with officials from the European Commission, the EU representations in Poland, Slovakia and Bulgaria, plus NGOs who have worked on issues of corruption and democratization in each of these three countries, documentary sources, and secondary sources (such as books and working papers).
We believe that this book will be of key interest to politicians, diplomats and civil servants working in international organisations, as well as to scholars and students of democratization studies, European studies and international relations.
Luca Tomini (PhD Brussels) is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Centre d’études de la vie politique (CEVIPOL – Université libre de Bruxelles, Brussels). His main research interests are a comparative perspective of democracy and democratization.
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