Limits and opportunities of the EU conditionality policy in the area of anti-corruption: the case of visa liberalization in Ukraine
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The thesis explores the limits as well as the opportunities the EU conditionality policy has beyond the legal borders of the Union. To attain the research objective, the research zeroes in on Visa Liberalization Action Plan in Ukraine and sets out to apply three theoretical assumptions identified in the scholarship on conditionality critique: (1) rule adoption versus rule application, (2) domestic costs as well as (3) EU’s own strategy. By constructing the conceptual framework around these three dimensions the thesis aims at eliciting the limits in the case of Ukraine, but not limited to identifying other limits. The ways how to improve the conditionality policy constitutes the second objective of the research. In terms of data collection, the research has conducted five interviews with experts in the field of EU conditionality and anti-corruption. In order to ensure the validity, the thesis used the “triangulation method”. Therefore, document-analysis was used to complement the main finding of the research. With regard to results, the research has identified that low rule application within the first dimension has multiple reasons: insufficient operationalization of conditions, non-holistic approach, and the EU’s own tolerance to unfulfilled conditions as well as only formal compliance by elites that does not presuppose effective application of the rule. With regard to the second theoretical expectation, the research has revealed that local resilience is a serious factor that limits the conditionality policy. “Vested interests” was found as a pivotal factor in this respect. Lastly, EU’s strategy is not sustainable and since there is no clear vision on how the EU should proceed after the conditionality is completed, the EU loses leverage over structural anti-corruption reforms, which raises the questions of effectiveness and sustainability of such policy more generally. With regard to opportunities, the EU should follow the improvements of both operational as well as strategic levels. Therefore, better precision of condition is needed, better decision-making, concrete and realistic benefits from the EU, more complementarity within conditions as well as more bottom-up approach should be enacted.
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