EU Eastward Enlargement:
: From Restpolitik to the Politics of Inevitability? A Systems of Norms Perspective

  • Giselle Bosse

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Economic and Social Studies


At the core of the following thesis lies the idea that the recent European Union (EU) enlargement cannot be explained fully unless greater attention is paid to the institutional context in which decision making on the relationship between the EU and Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) took place. In other words, I argue that decision-making was heavily structured by the particularities of the EU institutional context. It was this specific context that 'created' the initial EC responses to the CEECs just after the end of the Cold War. This is what I mean by Restpolitik or the politics of leftover, which in turn enabled some actors to be innovative in the development of frameworks towards an enlargement policy. I argue that, once institutionalised, these policy frameworks helped to shift certain parameters of the institutional context at the EU level which then came to determine further decision-making towards the CEECs: the Politics of Inevitability. I will base my argument on historical institutionalist and social constructivist assumptions respectively, which in conjunction form what I loosely define the 'Systems of Norms Perspective'. This perspective will not just help to provide a more systematic and balanced understanding of how the institutional context at the EU level influenced decision making toward Central and Eastern Europe over time. Crucially, it will also aim at explaining and demonstrating how changes in the institutional context helped the process of enlargement, toward eight and eventually ten CEECs, to proceed almost naturally
Date of Award2004
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University

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