Serbia and the ICTY: How Effective Is EU Conditionality?

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Series Details No.6, September 2009
Publication Date September 2009
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Over the past two decades conditionality has moved to the heart of the European Union’s (EU) foreign policy and is one of the key instruments of the enlargement policy. This paper looks into one specific aspect of the EU’s conditionality vis-à-vis the Republic of Serbia, namely the demand for cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

This paper aims to assess the extent to which the EU’s policy of ‘ICTY conditionality’ has been effective. By using the ‘external incentives model’ as the main theoretical framework, and supplementing it with insights of scholars who have studied past enlargements, I will identify and evaluate the main factors determining the success of this specific case of conditionality. I will demonstrate that, at times, the EU has been effective in employing ‘ICTY conditionality’, but that this has not been consistently so. I argue that on the EU’s side, the uncertainty concerning eventual membership and the lack of consistency in applying conditionality are the main factors undermining the policy’s effectiveness.

On the Serbian side, the great political costs entailed by cooperation, and the lack of political will to reform the structures of certain veto players are hindrances for a policy of full cooperation with the Tribunal.

This paper shows that conditionality is indeed a two-way process and that effectiveness is as much determined by the setter of the condition as by the target state. Moreover, by viewing this case as part of the broader policy of conditionality the EU has set out for aspiring members, the analysis will pinpoint some of the changing dynamics in the enlargement policy and contribute to the existing literature in this field.

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