European Union Conditionality: Coercion or Voluntary Adaptation?

Hans Agné
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Research on the enlargement conditionality of the European Union sustains opposite positions on the
question of whether it represents a means of coercion or an invitation to voluntary adaptation.
However, it reveals no dialogue between advocates of these opposed views. In an attempt to replace
this gap in communication with a research agenda, this article undertakes a theoretical investigation of
the main arguments for regarding compliance with conditionality either as an effect of coercion or as a
voluntary choice. It is found that both of these views are worth taking seriously but also that they are
premature and in need of further theoretical and in particular empirical clarification. It is suggested,
moreover, that coercion and voluntary adaptation are best viewed as complementary rather than
competing descriptions of complying with conditionality.

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