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Twinning Projects as a Tool of Administrative Reform

Twinning Projects as a Tool of Administrative Reform

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Published by: ababoi_stroe on Apr 24, 2012
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Conditionality and domestic change: Twinning projects as a tool of administrative reform in Romania
One of the major challenges facing the countries of Central and Eastern Europe(CEECs) in obtaining membership of the European Union (EU) has been the need toimplement effectively the
acquis communautaire
. The process of transposing the80,000 pages of EU law into domestic legislation has all but been completed in theeight CEECs that joined the EU in 2004 (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary,Tatvia, Tithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia). The same is also largely true forthe two 'laggards' in the enlargement process (Bulgaria and Romania) that joined theUnion in 2007. Yet the effective implementation of the transposed legislation poses amajor challenge to the administrative structures of states joining the EU. Grossinefficiency and a severe lack of expertise have been some of the most damaginglegacies of the old socialist order for their civil services. During the process of transition the credibility and effectiveness of public administrations across the regionhave also been seriously undermined by endemic levels of corruption and excessivepoliticisation.For its part, the EU has watched the laborious process of administrative reformin the CEECs with profound concern for the potential implications of eastwardsenlargement for the functioning of the single market and for the efforts of the existingMember States to deepen their co-operation in sensitive areas such as justice andhome affairs (JHA). Legal approximation has been an important parameter of theEU's relations with the CEECs, as recognized by both the Europe agreements and theCopenhagen European Council in 1993. Since the publication of the Commission'sWhite Paper on the integration of the CEECs into the single market in 1995(Commission, 1995), the question of public administration reform gained newimpetus; and by the time the Agenda 2000 proposals were presented in 1997, thestrengthening of the administrative capacity of applicant countries had become a keypriority for the EU. As part of this drive, in May 1998 the Commission launched thetwinning exercise, a new policy instrument through which civil servants from theMember States would be seconded to the applicant states with the task of speeding upthe process of their legal convergence with the EU and the development of institutionsfor upholding and implementing the
acquis
.
 
 
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This paper examines the operation of the twinning exercise in Romania,focusing in particular on the process of administrative reform in two key ministries:the Ministry of Interior, responsible for the implementation of large parts of the JHA
acquis
; and the Ministry of Development and Prognosis, responsible for theimplementation of the EU's
acquis
in the field of regional policy. In doing so, it buildsupon and extends the recent literature on the role of EU enlargement as a drivingforce for executive reform in central and eastern Europe (Goetz, 2001a). Conceptuallythe study of the twinning exercise in Romania is therefore linked to theEuropeanisation literature. Taking into consideration the strong conditionalitiesunderpinning the EU's enlargement process (e.g. extensive compliance with the EU
acquis
prior to membership), this paper departs from the conception of Europeanisation as an 'inward looking' process, confined only to existing EU MemberStates. Instead it furthers the argument that such a process can also be exportedoutside the geographical boundaries of the EU, particularly towards those countriesaspiring to join. The paper then shifts its attention to the impact of twinning, as amechanism of Europeanisation and a local extension of the EU's conditionalityprinciple on domestic reform. In doing so, it looks at issues relating to the design of the exercise and, more importantly, at domestic factors mediating its reform potential.The paper is divided into four sections. Section I reviews the literature onEuropeanisation and assesses its relevance to the recent EU enlargement process.Section II looks at the main features of the twinning exercise, whilst Section III buildson empirical evidence to provide an in-depth analysis of the operation of twinningprojects in Romania. In Section IV, the paper concludes with an assessment of therole of the twinning exercise as a stimulus for administrative reform in the candidatecountries; its role as an instrument for policing the conditionality principles associatedwith the recent enlargement process; and the domestic factors mediating the EU'sEuropeanising influence over its prospective Member States.
 
 
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I. Europeanisation, conditionality and reform in the CEECs
Over the last few years the growth of the Europeanization literature has beenconsiderable (Featherstone and Radaelli, 2003; Cowles et al., 2001; Dyson, 2000;Radaelli, 2000; Borzei 1999; Heritier, 1998; Featherstone, 1998). Yet, with few recentexceptions (Agh, 1999; Goetz, 2001a; Grabbe, 2001a, 2003; Demetropoulou, 2001),much of the debate on Europeanisation has predominantly focused on the way inwhich existing Member States are being transformed by EU membership. The processof Europeanisation, in this respect, is seen as a constant two-way interaction betweenthe 'national' and the 'European' (Cowles et. al, 2001), with Member States assumingthe role of both contributors and products of European integration (Rometsch andWessels, 1996). In other words, whilst EU Member States are the principal architectsof the European polity, they are often unable to control the timing and shape in whichthe outcomes of this polity are transposed into the national setting (Cole, 2001; Meny,1996). Within this context, Ladrech defines Europeanisation as the process in which'EC political and economic dynamics become part of the organisational logic of national politics and policy making' (Ladrech, 1994, p. 69). Building on Ladrech,Radaelli has broadened the definition of Europeanisation to include:
Processes of (a) construction, (b) diffusion, and (c) institutionalisation of  formal and informai rules, procedures, policy paradigms, styles, 'ways of doing things', and shared beliefs and norms which are first defined and Consolidated in the making of EU public policy and politics and thenintegrated in the logic of domestic discourse, identities, political structuresand public policies.
(Radaelli, 2003, p. 30)It is on the basis of such a definition that this paper proceeds.Given the substance of the EU's relationship with non-Member States and the breadthof Radaelli's definition, it is to be expected that the processes of Europeanisation canbe and have been exported. Nowhere else can this be seen more clearly than in thecase of the CEECs seeking membership of the EU, all of which have been subjectedto the same adaptational pressures of Europeanisation (institutional, cognitive andstrategic) as Knill and Lehmkuhl (1999) have described in the case of the existing EU

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