Conditional Changes: Europeanization in the Western Balkans and the Example of Media Freedom
AbstractThis paper takes a broad view on the context of EU conditionality and, after presenting various challenges, narrows down its focus to provide evidence for the shortcomings concerning media freedom in the Western Balkans. That enlargement is not the linear, one-way process it was once believed to be – where countries gravitating towards an evident liberal democratic consensus through the pull of integration – is evident from cases reaching beyond the Western Balkans. While we will not try to establish any direct causal relationship between the shortcomings of EU conditionality and the democratic backlash in the Western Balkans in the past ten years, we do seek to demonstrate how conditionality is failing in a particular context, by providing an overview of what the essential conditions of successful norm promotion, credibility and, most importantly, consistency are, and illustrate how these are lacking in the case of media freedom conditionality.
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