The European Union and the accession process in Hungary, Poland and Romania: is there a place for social dialogue?

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This paper attempts to shed some light on the nature of the ongoing accession negotiations between the European Union (EU) and the East Central European countries (ECE). Hungary, Poland and Romania are the focus of my paper. My principle argument is that, the accession process is feeble in terms of its transparency and in terms of providing participation routes for interest groups. 1 place this argument in a theoretical framework, which stresses that participation in policy making through civil society is a sign of consolidated democracy. I hypothesise that ‘assumed’ differences in terms of political and social structures, and the pace of accession among these three countries does not affect the conditions of democratic decision making during the accession negotiations.The negotiations are carried out in an elitist and non‐transparent format. As a result social dialogue during the accession process is debilitated and unsubstantiated. As such, this process gives substantial clues about the democratic consolidation process in ECE. I place myself against an elite‐ridden understanding of accession. Therefore, I disagree with the idea that the sheer policy overload deriving from negotiations with the EU as well as the enormous time pressure the process involves tend to encourage a decidedly elitist approach in practice.2 In opposition, I argue that democratic accountability cannot be sacrificed for any efficiency considerations. After all, any technocracy or benign dictatorship could achieve similar efficient policy outputs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297
Number of pages324
Journal Perspectives on European Politics and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 29 Feb 2008


  • Hungary
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • European Union
  • accession process
  • social dialogue


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