Winter 2018

Building Good (Enough) Governance in Postconflict Societies & Areas of Limited Statehood: The European Union & the Western Balkans

Tanja M. Börzel and Sonja Grimm

In this essay, we assess how the European Union supports the development of postconflict Western Balkan societies toward stable peace, economic prosperity, and consolidated democracy, moving them along the path to Denmark. Our analysis reveals that the EU has contributed to effective and democratic governance in its southeastern neighborhood. At the same time, its effectiveness as an external good governance–builder varies. Structural postconflict conditions that are not conducive to democratization, conflicting policy objectives, the dynamic interplay between the EU and Western Balkan governments, and the involvement of domestic third-party actors in the reform process explain this variation. To make EU good governance–building more effective, we recommend acknowledging conflicting objectives and using governance-building instruments consistently and credibly to reconceptualize external good governance–building as a dynamic process between external and domestic actors and to take domestic actors and their preferences seriously.

TANJA A. BÖRZEL is Professor of Political Science and Chair for European Integration at the Otto Suhr Institute for Political Science at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. She is the author of Governance under Anarchy: Effective and Legitimate in Areas of Limited Statehood (with Thomas Risse, forthcoming) and is the coeditor of the Oxford Handbook of Governance and Limited Statehood (with Thomas Risse and Anke Draude, 2018).

SONJA GRIMM is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Konstanz, Germany. She has published in such journals as European Union Politics, Journal of Common Market Studies, Conflict Management and Peace Science, and Democratization.

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