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International Development Policies of the New Member States – Europeanization and Future Directions

Final Report Summary - INTDEPNEW (International Development Policies of the New Member States – Europeanization and Future Directions)

International Development Policies of the New Member States – Europeanization and Future Directions
Dr. Simon Lightfoot, University of Leeds, s.j.lightfoot@leeds.ac.uk

Project Overview
The proposed research sought to create a better understanding of the emerging international development policies of the CEE countries. It addressed explored a number of research questions and the findings are outlined below. The project adopted a Europeanization framework, which has frequently been employed to explain both political and policy reform in candidate countries (Schimmelfennig and Sedelemier, 2005; Sedelmeier, 2011) and also compliance with EU law in the NMS (Epstein and Sedelmeier, 2008). The concept of Europeanization refers to a ‘top-down’ process through which Europe and the European Union affect states. The two main mechanisms for explaining this adoption process are conditionality and socialization. We focused on socialization, where actors will adopt the relevant norms and laws not because they have to, but because these rules become internalized and a conviction gradually develops that they represent the only proper way to act. This was appropriate for development policy because little binding acquis exists; therefore socialization can be the only mechanism to explain domestic level policy change induced by EU processes. The project utilised process tracing to track how the EU’s development acquis is made, perceived and implemented and how conducive this process is for socialization.
Research Question One: How has the EU affected the emerging development policies of the CEE countries? Is there evidence of ‘Europeanization’ (i.e. are the international development practices of the CEE countries converging to European standards, norms and principles)?
Research Question 2: Besides the EU, what other factors influence the way CEE development policies are constructed? What impact do broader foreign policy goals have? What was the impact of the current financial crisis on CEE development policy? What effects do perceptions and domestic support for giving foreign aid have on these emerging policies?
Accession to the European Union has had profound influences on a number of sector-level policies in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) new member states (NMS). Few policies evidence this as clearly as official development assistance (ODA), which is unlikely to have existed in the NMS without the EU’s accession conditionality. However, while the EU can clearly be credited with pushing the creation of these policies, the project highlighted issues with post accession compliance. The project showed that, in the absence of a hard development acquis, any Europeanization seems rather shallow and superficial. Due to lower capacities and lower interest in development policy, NMS are rather passive in making the development acquis, which may decrease its perceived procedural legitimacy. MFAs have no formal methods for channeling the acquis into national policies, which reflects the fact that they perceive much of it to be inappropriate for their situation. Resonance between the EU acquis and national beliefs is clearly low. Last but not least, there are no norm entrepreneurs that clearly and consistently try to educate governments and promote the implementation of principles embodied in the acquis. The OECD DAC may be an exception, but its recommendations often go ignored.
The project identified that, like in many other donors, foreign policy goals were important in shaping the direction of aid from CEE states. The majority of bilateral aid went to states in either the Western Balkans or the post-Soviet space in the Eastern Neighbourhood of the EU. The financial crisis had a major impact on aid levels, which in some states was cut dramatically. Cuts were possible because international development assistance still has a relatively low public resonance
The contribution of the project to existing knowledge is threefold. First, the existence and effectiveness of socialization pressures in post-accession settings is still an under-researched topic, and as explained above, development policy is an ideal case to examine them. While studies do exist on the Europeanization of NMS ODA policies (Horky, 2010), these explore socialization only marginally. Second, while there is now an emerging body of literature on development policies of the new member states , the dynamics of political decision making, as well as the factors which influence this are still not well understood. By opening the ‘black box’ of development policy making at the EU and the national level, the paper not only reveals important dynamics in EU development policy but also contributes to our understanding of intra-institutional and member state dynamics in the Council and its Working Groups post enlargement. Finally, the paper adds to the existing literature on the role of socialization to promote Europeanization within the field of EU external relations.
Research Question Three: Non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) play a very important role in the implementation of CEE aid. In what ways do development NGO’s in CEE differ from development NGO’s in more established donors such as the UK or Ireland?
The project examined the impact of EU accession on international development and humanitarian NGOs in CEE states. It showed that NGOs in the region faced similar challenges to NGOs in more established donors but that there were specific challenges that they faced in the region. These included how to manage relationships with government, how to organise effectively and how to maintain and build human and financial resources. Our research highlighted two specific case studies. It showed that NGOs in the Czech Republic had been more influential as opposed to those in Hungary.
Research Question Four: What do the partner (aid receiving) countries think about the re-emergence of the CEE donors? How do partner countries perceive these new donors compared to the more established ones?
This area of the research, as anticipated, proved to be the most difficult to carry out. However, from the interviews we managed to undertake there was a clear perception amongst partner countries that CEE donors had some advantages as donors, in particular the lack of a colonial past (African countries) and an appreciation of the issues faced by states in transition (Western Balkans and post-Soviet space). Interviewees argued that transition experience is highly relevant and that the CEE donors are able to strike a much more accessible/similar approach to things they do, and thus get along better. However, they are much less professional and organized than the established donors.
Summary
The overall research would be relevant to policy makers in the field of development policy within the European Institutions and the member states, other development agencies such as the UNDP or the World Bank, civil society organisations in Brussels and in Central and Eastern Europe as well as the academic community in CEE states.


References
Epstein, R. A. and Sedelmeier, U. (2008) ‘Beyond conditionality: international institutions in postcommunist Europe after enlargement.’ Journal of European Public Policy, Vol. 15, No. 6, pp. 795–805.
Horký, O. (2010) ‘The Europeanisation of Development Policy. Acceptance, accommodation and resistance of the Czech Republic.’ DIE Discussion Paper 18/2010.
Schimmelfennig, F. and Sedelmeier, U. (2005) ‘Introduction. Conceptualizing the Europeanization of Central and Eastern Europe.’ In Schimmelfennig, F. and Sedelmeier, U. (eds) The Europeanization of Central and Eastern Europe (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press), pp. 1-28.
Sedelmeier, U. (2011) ‘Europeanisation in new member and candidate states’. Living Reviews in European Governance, Vol. 6, No. 1.