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Recasting the Puzzle of the EU’s Eastward Enlargement: Identities, Narratives, Problem Structuring and Rhetorical Entrapment

Yana Stoeva ; University of Twente, Enschede, Netherlands
Robert Hoppe orcid id ; University of Twente, Enschede, Netherlands

Puni tekst: engleski pdf 1.129 Kb

str. 40-71

preuzimanja: 592



The European Union’s eastward enlargement cannot be explained by functionalism and liberal intergovernmentalism, which are the dominant rational choice theories about the developmental dynamics and governance of the European Union as a novel polity. These theories fail to explain how a process, supposedly characterized from its early stages by states bargaining to maximize their benefits, ends up with actual enlargement (in 2004 and 2007). Indeed, the high uncertainty and complexity that surrounded the EU negotiations made it difficult for the governments to define their preferences and narrow down the uncertainty. Precisely because of this, agenda-setting and problem framing played a substantial role in the pre-negotiation phase where the use of competing frames influenced the negotiation outcome. Therefore, in this paper, we explore social constructivist alternative theoretical approaches: does a theory based on identity formation, narrativity and problem structuring fare any better? More specifically: may we define a set of mechanisms which connects identity, through narratives and problem structuring, to a plausible eastward enlargement explanation? Applying social identity theory and problem structuring theory to the agenda-setting and negotiation process, we compare the policy frames and narratives present in the accession processes of 2004 and 2007. Emery Roe’s method of narrative policy analysis is used for cross-case comparison, in which the 2007 cohort of accession states, Bulgaria and Romania, is treated as a least likely case. By linking the concept of narrative, as a vehicle to construct European identities, to that of enlargement, we show how the EU ended up trapped in the rhetorical cage of its own founding myth and the pan-European rhetoric of membership open to any European state respecting its founding principles. Only within the rhetorically constructed constraints do rational bargaining strategies gain plausibility – reasoning serves only to justify a previous choice.

Ključne riječi

identity, narrative, problem frames, narrative policy analysis, EU’s eastward enlargement

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