Minority Rights Protections in Contemporary Europe: The Double Standards between the obligations of Member States and Candidate Countries
thesisposted on 11.09.2017, 12:03 by Elyse Margaret Wakelin
Through the principle of EU conditionality, the European Union has proven itself to be somewhat of a normative actor in a number of key foreign policy areas including in minority rights. In 2003, Moravcsik and Vachudova proposed that “the accession process imposes something of a double standard in a handful of areas, chiefly the protection of ethnic minority rights, where candidates have to meet standards that the EU-15 have never set for themselves”. This assertion has been widely proven in academic literature to be correct for the case of the Central and Eastern (CEEC) enlargements of 2004 and 2007. However, there has been limited scholarly attention on whether this assertion still applies to states currently seeking European Union Membership. This thesis proposes that this ‘double standard’ in minority rights obligations has evolved into a four-way divide in minority rights standards taking into account the CEEC and the present accession processes involving the Western Balkan states. The thesis analyses this four-way divide, focusing on the key case studies of Latvia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It furthermore rejects the arguments offered to justify the different standards which have emerged in minority rights standards across the region. With the European Union facing turbulent times with the June 2016 Brexit vote and rising Euroscepticism, it is essential that the European Union seek to bring accession requirements and membership obligations in line with each other and develop an acquis communautaire on the fundamental area of minority rights.